It’s been a year since 26 Wandsworth Labour councillors were elected. Each day this week we hear their stories of how they have made life a little better for local people
Part 5: Sprinklers, finding a safe home for a new baby and activities for local children
Councillor Angela Ireland (West Hill ward) supports leaseholders
Following the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2016, Wandsworth Council decided to retrofit sprinklers in all rooms of the hundred tall blocks across the borough. This decision was very unpopular with many residents who were unhappy that they were not consulted and felt that other fire safety measures, particularly in common areas, would be more effective.
The Council has said that it will consider recommendations from the Grenfell Inquiry when deciding whether to go ahead. However, instead of waiting for the findings and listening to residents’ views, the council brought a case to the First Tier Tribunal to decide whether leaseholders will have to accept and pay for the works. The council refused to share the legal advice to support their decision, until directed to do so by the Tribunal.
There are ten affected blocks in West Hill, and we are representing several residents at the tribunal and submitted a response on their behalf it on behalf including an application to extend the deadline by six months to September 2019 which was successful.
Councillor Graeme Henderson (Earlsfield ward) helps a mother find a safe place for her new baby
I have had to deal with a number of deeply troubling housing cases in my first year as an Earlsfield Councillor, but one stood out as being both the most appalling and yet, in some ways, ultimately satisfying.
I received an email from a local resident shortly after Christmas complaining about damp in their privately rented room. Little did I expect the full extent of the problem, I have never seen a more unsuitable place for humans to live. I would not have housed an animal in these conditions.
A room the size of a modest bedroom with no permanent heating and one (broken) window was occupied by a couple, of whom the wife was due to give birth a week later. I could smell the mould as I entered the room! They had spent the whole of Christmas in these conditions.
I immediately involved Environmental Health who served a formal Notice on the landlord requiring a long list of repairs before the property could be re-let and arranged emergency accommodation for the couple. I spoke to them in the New Year.
They were so pleased to be in a warm and dry place. I also arranged for them to go on the Council Housing waiting list. The couple wrote to me telling me they “appreciate your help a lot. We will never forget this”, but it should not happen in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Why are landlords still able to rent slum property out?
Councillor Jeremy Ambache (Roehampton and Putney Heath ward) campaigns for activities for local children
There are a large number of children and families living in Roehampton. From our Councillor’s involvement with local people – and our surveys of local opinion – we are told by residents that children of all ages need more play facilities.
A local parent, Jane Smith, told us that ‘having a local parent and toddler facility provides a life line for me’.
So over the last year we have campaigned for and supported children’s groups and youth activities.
- We are delighted that Chelsea football club provide after-school youth and football sessions
- We have supported and encouraged Roehampton Club to provide tennis, squash and maths after school – it’s called ‘racquets cubed’.
- We have campaigning for more facilities on Alton East Estate and the Council has agreed to upgrade a hard play sports area on Wand borough Drive near Witley Point.
- We have been pressing the Council for 3 years to upgrade the Alton Activity Centre – this is at last now promised by the Council as part of the Alton Regeneration programme.
- We have encouraged Eastwood Children’s centre to continue providing out-reach in the on the edge of Wandsworth for parents and young children.
There is more to do and we are developing the capacity of the voluntary sector to do this. This will support more activities for children of all ages. These facilities are important for youngsters growing up in Roehampton.