(Speech to Wandsworth council, December 2013 – starts at 31.30mins)
I think this crucial regeneration project has begun well, thanks to hard work by staff and consultants, co-operation between political parties and, crucially, engagement from local people. Who have, so far, backed the most bold option put in front of them.
It is a mighty challenge now for the council to sell the benefits of potentially demolishing 700 homes and replacing them with around 2,000 new homes – perhaps a billion pounds of new housing – on that estate.
Here is what your local councillors, Tony Belton, Wendy Speck and I, have achieved in 2012 with the help of volunteers and local residents:
1 Helped to save York Gardens Library, again
Local Labour councillors are proud to have led the community campaign that saved York Gardens Library last year. But to keep the library open we now need to:
Raise £70,000 in room hire each year – please book a room if you have a birthday party or special occasion
Make sure local children use the computers, the free homework club and GCSE Success tutoring
I was very impressed on recent visits to the library to see dozens of children from the local estates benefit from the free Maths and English tutoring supplied by GCSE Success. One local mother I invited to the House of Commons had a chance to explain how these volunteer tutors had given her daughter the chance to following her dream of becoming a lawyer.
IN 2013 WE WILL work with parents and the council to ensure a top-class new playground for York Gardens is in place for the spring.
2 Worked hard on the £60m estate regeneration for Winstanley and York Road
The Kinghan report into last summer’s riots concluded that the Winstanley Estate is in the worst 1 per cent of places in the country to grow up as a child. We are pleased that Wandsworth has agreed to make a huge investment to regenerate the York Road and Winstanley Estates. We stood for election in 2010 on a promise to improve our estates and we will stand again in 2014 on the same promise. Labour will ensure residents’ interests are put first in the regeneration, meaning:
Full consultation with the community
Construction jobs for local people
All social housing to be replaced, with residents guaranteed a chance to return
Estates should be given mix of housing types and tenures
No overall loss of play space or parks
IN 2013 WE WILL continue this work and link it to the £1m Big Lottery Funding that will help renew our community as well as the buildings we live in.
IN 2013 WE WILL dig deep to help the brand new Kambala garden come into bloom. Contact green-fingered councillor Wendy Speck (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get involved.
4 Led the fight to save our local police stations
Earlier this year, Battersea Labour Party used a freedom of information request to uncover the disturbing fact that Lavender Hill Police station has “in principle approval for disposal in 2012/13”. Not only did Tory councillors refuse to join the campaign to save the police station, they accused us of ‘scaremongering’ (see video above).
By December, the Evening Standard reported that almost half of London’s police stations were to close to the public. Wandsworth’s top policeman recently predicted: “The front counters at Battersea, Tooting and Putney High Street [police stations] would close”.
Tony, Wendy and I know what a crucial role Lavender Hill Police station played in finally ending the riots at Clapham Junction last year and we will do everything we can to keep it open.
IN 2013 WE WILL ask every Wandsworth councillor to choose between supporting the police station cuts and supporting community campaigns to save our police stations.
5 Backed local businesses and job-seekers
2012 was a very tough year to run a business in Battersea – and unemployment continued to rise. We stood up for local businesses that were flooded and facing high business rates and worked to help stallholders set up in markets and employ local youths.
We strongly supported Wandsworth’s new jobs brokerage scheme that will match local candidates to the job opportunities coming up in Nine Elms. We also backed the W.O.W Enterprise Club which helps lone parents set up their own businesses.
Local businessman Neset Sabir (left): “Councillor Simon Hogg helped me when my basement flooded and when my mopeds were stolen. I trust him.”IN 2013 WE WILL continue to boost local entrepreneurs and help job seekers get the skills they need
6 Action on parking: Made bailiffs return a car to Clark Lawrence Court that had been wrongly towed away…
…secured the release of a clamped vehicle by challenging the council’s contractor and supported a council crack-down on Blue Badge fraud that has caught 441 cheats.
IN 2013 WE WILL support a freeze in the cost of a residents’ parking permit, as we did in 2012
7 Action on housing: Got the council to repair entryphones at Pennethorne House and Culvert Road, the pavement at Ashley Crescent, the map at McDermott Close…
…a leak in Holcroft House, a broken door in Dungeness House, negotiated a payment extension for Inkster House residents who faced a 200 per cent increase in service charges. We also pushed the council to agree empty homes should from now on pay fair Council Tax and spoke out on the housing crisis facing young people facing high rents and mortgage deposits.
IN 2013 WE WILL help constituents made homeless by the housing benefit cap and prepare for the effects of the next round of housing benefit cuts.
8 Celebrated the Overground arriving at Clapham Junction
Thanks to tireless work by former Battersea MP Martin Linton, local people can now take the Overground Line from the new Platform 2 at Clapham Junction to Clapham High St (8 mins), Peckham (15 mins), Surrey Quays (24 mins), Whitechapel (33 mins).
The wonderful new line that opened in December links up to Canada Water (for Jubilee line services to Canary Wharf and Stratford), Clapham High Street (for Northern Line services to the City and the West End), Highbury & Islington (for Victoria Line and National Rail services) and Shoreditch High Street (for the City).
IN 2013 WE WILL continue to lobby for improvements to Clapham Junction, surely the worst-designed major station in Britain.
9 Opposed over-development
Too often Wandsworth council puts the interests of property developers over the interests of residents. Another legacy of Martin Linton’s time as Battersea MP was stopping the construction of 42-storey towers at Clapham Junction and the Ram Brewery site.
This year Tony, Wendy and I met architects, planners and members of the public to:
Discuss the public benefit of developments on the Prince’s Head pub site on Falcon Road, the Peabody Estate and the Travis Perkins site on Battersea Park Road.
Stop developers behaving antisocially during construction: we were recently appalled by reports that concrete was being laid at 3am on the Battersea Reach site, with the council’s full knowledge! This Christmas morning I was woken at 7am by construction work from another site.
And a few of the other issues we tackled in 2012…
…Arson attacks in Fairchild Close… Planned extension for Falcon Road Mosque… Council cutting lollipop ladies… Big Local Lottery funding… Bed Bugs in Penge House… New windows for Sporle Court… Gun crime in York Gardens, Falcon Road and Pennethorne Square… Need for more CCTV on Maysoule Road… Lack of teenagers’ facilities on Battersea Fields Estate… Discussion with former Health Secretary Andy Burnham about the future shape of the NHS… Public appeal for PlayStation equipment at the STORM youth club…
A young man was shot and wounded in York Gardens on the Winstanley Estate on Thursday at around 2.15pm. Information from the council says the victim is in a stable condition – his injuries are not believed to be life threatening (although the Wandsworth Guardian reports he is “in critical condition”). Other information:
Trident has taken on the investigation and enquiries are ongoing to trace and arrest the suspect(s)
Police will be undertaking re-assurance patrols throughout the weekend
Weapon sweeps will be undertaken in the local area
Much of the area – including York Gardens Library was taped off as part of the crime scene all afternoon
Police are looking for two suspects who were seen on a black motorcycle prior to the shooting. Witnesses saw the motorcycle made off along Plough Road, turning left into York Road.
Anyone with information or witnesses are asked to call the incident room on 0208 785 8589 or anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111. Continue reading →
Guest post: As part of a series on Wandsworth’s housing crisis, my colleague Councillor Peter Carpenter explains how Wandsworth sets the country’s highest council housing rents – and does it in a way that penalises tenants who go out to work.
SPEECH TO WANDSWORTH COUNCIL: OCTOBER 2011
(Begins at 11mins 50secs in the video – full text below)
I would like to sketch out some of the personal effects of the housing crisis in Wandsworth today.
I hope to emphasise that whether you own a home, are in social housing or rent privately, we are all in this together – whatever our situation we can all feel anxious about the roof over our head. Continue reading →