12,000 people signed the climate change petition – now it’s time for action

Letter from councillor Simon Hogg, Wandsworth Labour leader, to the 12,000 residents who signed this climate change petition 

 

Thank you very much for joining more than 12,000 local people who signed the climate change petition.

It’s fantastic that so many people have got involved in this campaign. It has been particularly inspiring to see so many children passionate about this crucial issue. All real change comes from the grass roots.

We need urgent action on climate change. We can’t carry on down the path we are on without causing irreparable damage to the planet.

Wandsworth Labour believes the environment is the bedrock of our economy, our security and our wellbeing. It is not something separate from us – it is the food we eat and the place we live.

Only through collective action based on justice and solidarity can dangerous climate change be stopped.

We welcome the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which describes with high confidence the enormous harm that a 2 degree average rise global temperature will cause, compared to a 1.5 degree rise.

The IPCC report also confirms that with immediate and ambitious action from government and local authorities between now and 2030 it may still be possible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

We believe Wandsworth Council must play its part. The council will need to work with partners across the borough to become carbon neutral and end our contribution to Britain’s carbon footprint. Citizens, businesses, schools and charities all have a part to play.

Crucially, politicians need to work together on this challenge. An issue of this scale needs long-term commitment.

Labour and Conservative councillors will come together to debate climate change at our next council meeting in July. This is a long-term issue that will require real change and significant new thinking. I’m hopeful the council will agree a comprehensive long-term plan this year.

In Wandsworth, Labour and Conservatives co-operate on several climate change initiatives at present. We have been united in our strong opposition to a third runway at Heathrow – and are working together on plans to decarbonise the council’s pension investments.

Nationally, the Labour Party proposes a green industrial revolution to make our cities liveable, our natural spaces rich and alive – and our own lives satisfying and secure.

Labour’s 2017 manifesto pledged that 60 per cent of the UK’s energy will come from low-carbon or renewable sources by 2030. Last year we committed to a target of net zero emissions before 2050. We will ban fracking and insulate four million homes.

Labour believes there is an environment and climate emergency.

In London, Sadiq Khan has taken tough action on air quality and set out ambitious plans to make London the greenest global city. His plans will make our city a greener, cleaner and healthier place by targeting London’s toxic air, increasing its green cover and making London a zero-carbon city by 2050.

Strong environmental policy is a matter of justice – and ensuring that communities can breathe clean air, drink clean water, afford a good diet and enjoy our green spaces.

Labour’s policies will tackle climate change, improve our environment, and build a sustainable economy.

I’d like to thank you again for signing the petition. I hope you can make it to the Town Hall for the climate change debate on July 17.

Best wishes

Simon Hogg
Leader, Wandsworth Labour

 

One year on: Windrush victim support and championing local boxing

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 6:  Windrush victim support and championing local boxing

 

Councillor Claire Gilbert (Roehampton and Putney Heath ward) campaigns for Windrush victims

A windrush victim came to our surgery in Roehampton last year seeking help after having lost her job 10 years ago, with no income or access to financial support from the state since then due to the hostile environment.

Unfortunately she was let down by her local MP when she first raised this issue many years ago.

Together we challenged her treatment, and have now got her British Citizenship and then her British Passport – so she can now visit her family in Germany and Jamaica without the fear of not being allowed back into the UK. We went to the Citizenship ceremony together with her family and it was a very special occasion, although bittersweet.

This lovely and brave woman still suffers severe financial hardship due to her treatment. We made a claim for compensation under the Windrush Hardship scheme, and have written many letters to the Government – but we have been turned down for any financial help.

 

Councillor Sue McKinney (Roehampton and Putney Heath ward) supports local boxing

One of my favourite things has been supporting Roehampton and Putney Boxing Club whom I have supported over the 5 years.

They were really struggling so I introduced them to the Royal Marines in Southfields.  Since then and with the help of a bit of cross-party work, they have gone from strength to strength. They are also going to be a Mayor’s charity this year.

“A special blessing goes out to Sue for introducing us to people we would not think of getting in touch with or have the time to reach out to.” Karen Horsford, Founder, coach and match maker, Putney and Roehampton Boxing Club.

 

 

One year on: Sprinklers & finding a safe home for a new baby

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.

One year on: Loving local schools & cracking down on rat-running

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 4: Loving our local schools, creating Parklife and cracking down on rat-running

Councillor Fleur Anderson (Bedford ward) is dedicated to local schools

Support for our wonderful local schools is a very rewarding part of being a councillor.

In times of school budget cuts, being able to advise and support parents and teacher to get funds from grants is important. I am pleased to have given encouragement, advice and support to two successful primary school projects during the last year both of which will improve our environment.

St Anselm’s School parents have have an award from the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund for a ‘green wall’ to cut pollution from the High Road to the playground and classrooms. Ravenstone School have won a Wandsworth Grant Fund to work with local community groups to transform some of their playground into a community garden.

 

Councillor Andy Gibbons (Graveney ward) creates Parklife in Graveney

Working with local residents, I have been able to secure £15,000 funding to consult about developing a small park near Gravenel Gardens on Mellison Road.

The scheme would aim to make the area greener and also to reduce the flow of traffic at the Sellincourt crossroads, enabling parents and children from the school to cross more safely.

The money comes from contributions paid by commercial developers as part of the local Community Infrastructure Levy. If this scheme is backed by residents it could lead to further schemes to green Graveney and cut traffic on residential streets.

 

Councillor Peter Carpenter (West Hill ward) deals with rat-running

Residents have been complaining for years about rat-running through West Hill Ward caused by the build up of traffic on the West Hill section of the A3 at peak times.

The long term solution would be to improve traffic flows on West Hill, but the A3 is a TfL road and it would require significant interventions, so no action is expected soon.

In the meantime, we persuaded the Council to conduct a detailed traffic survey of the area and come up with options to alleviate rat-running.  A series of interventions were discussed with Councillors in the Autumn of 2018 and an initial phase was agreed at Committee and was introduced for an experimental six-month period in March 2019.

Left turning traffic has been banned from entering Windlesham Grove between 7am and 10am, and during this time Inner Park Road ha been made one way Westbound.  This prevents traffic from the A3 and Wimbledon Parkside from rat-running through West Hill Ward during the morning peak.

If the trial proves successful we will be considering additional measures to further reduce rat-running.

One year on: Building communities and supporting local business 

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 3: Building communities and supporting local business 

Cllr Hector Denfield (Bedford ward) helps residents set up their own Resident’s Association

Many residents got in touch with us about the same issues that were affecting the Larch Close estate in Balham. It quickly became apparent that these were repeating issues rather than isolated incidents, and what was needed was solutions to the causes and not just the symptoms.

To do this, the Bedford ward councillors assisted the residents of the estate to set up their own Residents Association, a formal body that is recognised and supported by the council. After several months of work and going through the official (and long!) process to get the association established, we are very proud to say that the first meeting of the association was held in February and the residents have formed their first executive committee.

The residents are running the association themselves and are empowered to undertake improvements to the estate. It also enhances the sense of community, as residents get to know their neighbours better and work together as a team.

 

 

 

Your Furzedown councillors, Leonie Cooper and Judi Gasser, breathe new life into Mitcham Lane shops

Our biggest success in Furzedown in 2018 was seeing the completion of the £400k road and shopfront improvement project in Mitcham Lane.

It was a long time coming – we began the project with a survey, a paper was submitted to Committee, an application for some TfL funding was successfully made and the Council allocated some funds too, we had a project group that managed the project for well over a year, which I attended throughout.

There was a big opening in June 2018, with a trail up and down, enticing people into all the shops.

During the project design, we persuaded the Council to add on the installation of Christmas lights and a Christmas tree pit, complete with the electrical wiring. Judi and Candida took the lead on organising fantastic Christmas events, with school choirs, when the tree was switched on and all the lights were light.

We have an amazing new piazza, a road that is much easier to cross, lovely new shop fronts – and a huge sign that says Furzedown.

It has really improved an area that was pretty run down – and new shops have opened!

One year on: Promoting active travel and creating a sense of place

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

Day 2: Promoting active travel and creating a sense of place

Councillor Simon Hogg (Latchmere ward) working to make our streets better for active travel

I’ve been a Wandsworth Labour councillor now for several years.  Working on behalf of local residents is as rewarding as ever.  Sometimes this is dealing with big issues, sometimes it’s fixing the things that we think we just need to put up with.

I heard from residents in Fownes Street that the walkway was uneven and people were tripping over. I took the issue up with the council and now there is nice even paving and a new hand-rail. Local people feel safer tell me that they feel safer.

 

Councillor Tony Belton (Latchmere ward) puts Falcon Grove back on the map

I’ve been a Labour councillor for over forty years and it’s a role that I’m still immensely proud of doing.  I want to use this story to remind residents that it’s their ideas that we want to hear.  It’s the things that you see as you are out and about that you think could be better.

Here is an example from a local resident, David Phillip de Micco, who was complaining that there was no street sign after recent redevelopment works.  I asked Wandsworth Council to fix this and David is delighted to have his neighbourhood back on the map.

 

Councillor Jo Rigby (Earlsfield ward) working to create low traffic neighbourhoods

As a brand new councillor, year one has been a real joy. I’ve made progress through campaigning on issues such as pushing Wandsworth to pay the real Living Wage.  I’ve learnt first hand how change can come while in opposition.  As a parent, I’m passionate about the environment and reducing pollution in Wandsworth.  I’m trying to persuade the Tories to allow people to open up Playing Out Streets to allow our children to experience playing on their streets.  I’m in that one for the long haul!

Recently, I contacted the Earlsfield Business Network with ideas for how to revitalise our high street.  The high street can be saved through making it a more enjoyable place for people to spend time.  Garratt Lane is too noisy and polluted through traffic to make it a destination place for locals and visitors.  I shared with Earlsfield Business Network my ideas for low traffic, removing parking to put parklets and holding a pop-up street market on Car Free Day to encourage people to explore local business.  It was a very uplifting meeting, and the ideas were positively received.  We are now approaching Wandsworth to try to make these happen.

I believe that the way we live can be better, healthier and safer.  So many residents are now asking for solutions to the rat running and speeding cars that they have been forced to live with.  I believe that change is coming and I will stay in this role to ensure that it comes sooner.

One year on: Dogs in distress, Tooting goes to Wembley & housing help

One year one, a massive thank you to Wandsworth residents from Wandsworth Labour councillors

It’s been exactly a year since Wandsworth Labour succeeded in winning seven additional seats. It was our best result for 30 years and we fell just short of winning the council.

There are now 25 Labour councillors working on your behalf to build better policies in the Town Hall and support community campaigns in your neighbourhood.

We want to thank Wandsworth residents for putting their faith in us and being so supportive of our work throughout this year.  It’s an honour and a privilege to represent local people and to work to improve life for all local people

After May 2018, we welcomed new Labour councillors on board and built a team that draws on our diverse life experience and wide areas of interest.  Within the team we have councillors with backgrounds in healthcare, community outreach, education, legal, business and environment.

We lean on each other’s experience to find the best outcomes for all the issues that we are contacted about.  For each of us, the past year has brought many successful outcomes for residents, and it’s these moments that make us so proud to represent you.

Over the next week we’ll be sharing stories of these achievements. Please do get in touch with your ideas for how we can continue to do this.

Thank you for your support!

 

Day one: Saving dogs in distress, Tooting goes to Wembley and getting a resident back on their feet

 

Cllr Clare Fraser (Bedford ward) safeguards dogs in distress

Last summer I was delighted to bring to an end a long-running issue affecting many residents living on Dafforne Road in Tooting Bec.

A resident living on the road was keeping a number of dogs in the gardens of the property which were barking and in distress at all times of the day and night. This was causing a great amount of anguish to residents living on the road who were unable to sleep at night and afraid for the welfare of the dogs being kept there. This issue had been going on periodically for a number of years, but it had been difficult to take lasting action, previously.

Over the course of a number of months I worked closely with the animal welfare, environmental health and legal teams at the council to progress through the necessary steps to ensure that a lasting solution was found for all residents, and that the dogs were placed in an environment where they would be looked after and would no longer be in distress.

I am proud, that through tenacity I was able to help bring this matter to a close, helping a number of residents in the process.

 

Cllr Kate Forbes (Graveney ward) takes Tooting to Wembley

Working with Tooting MP, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, I was proud to give hundreds of schoolchildren and charities across Tooting Graveney tickets to watch England play at Wembley.

Jimmy Asher Foundation, Digilab and Business Launchpad are fantastic local charities that work to upskill young people – I was so pleased to see the excitement of the staff and young people who were able to attend.

When I spoke to the headteacher of St Boniface RC Primary School, she told me that she had been overwhelmed by the interest from among parents and children for the offer. They were thrilled to be given the opportunity to go to Wembley – something they had previously thought was out of their reach.

It is so powerful to be able to work as part of such a fantastic team of Labour Councillors and with our brilliant Tooting MP. These schools and organisations work hard day-in, day-out, to give their all for our young people – I was proud to be able to give a little back.

 

Cllr Paul White (Tooting ward) helps out in the housing crisis

Housing for all is one of my passions.  Recently I was asked to help a family of three children who were living in very overcrowded conditions in a two bedroom flat.

I met with this person, many times and kept pushing the council to move him and his family without much luck with us both being told that he was too far down the list to expect a move.  In the meantime, his wife developed medical conditions and the stress on the family worsened. Under the stress, he lost the business that he was trying to build to support his family.

Some two months later, after the last rejection letter, I got a call from him excitedly telling me that the council had offered him a 3 bedroom flat in Putney.  He invited me to a moving in meal to thank me for my help.

Wandsworth Labour calls on the council to improve its grim recycling record

 

On Global Recycling Day, Wandsworth Labour calls on the Council to improve its grim recycling record.

Locally, Wandsworth Council has a grim recycling record.  Out of 350 English local authorities Wandsworth has the 6th worst recycling rate. Only 22% of household waste is recycled.  

Today is Global Recycling Day which aims to push the urgent need for more effectively recycle around the world to assure the future of our planet.  So today, Labour Councillors in Wandsworth have launched a petition calling on the Council to take more action to improve its poor recycling rate.

Television programmes such as Blue Planet and students taking days off school to protest have intensified the debate and calls for action on environmental issues and climate change.  Although local authority budgets have been cut council’s still have an important role in making changes that lessening the negative impact we have on our environment.

 According to Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Putney and local Councillor, Fleur Anderson: “The Council needs to improve its grim record of having the country’s 6th worst recycling rate.  So today, on Global Recycling Day we are calling on the Council to do more to improve its recycling rate.”

Cllr Anderson added: “The Council should pilot a weekly separate food waste collection scheme.  The national government aims to introduce separate food waste collection for all households nationwide and the vast majority of local authorities in London already offer this service for their residents. On average, food waste can account for overhttps://www.ipetitions.com/petition/wandsworthrecycling a third of household waste.  Not only would a separate food waste scheme increase the amount of recycled waste but it inspires people to think more carefully about all the waste they generate leading them to reduce the overall levels of waste they generate.”

Fleur Anderson said: “The Council could also make it easier for residents to recycle.  Residents have complained to me that there are not sufficient numbers of recycling bins, local public recycling banks have disappeared and recycling bins in public buildings either do not exist or are not clearly labelled. The Council needs to step up and play its part in lessening the negative impact we have on our environment.”

Sign the petition now

Our children should know the joy of running around the street with their mates

Open letter from Labour councillor Jo Rigby to the deputy leader of Wandsworth council

 

Dear Cllr Cook,

I’m appealing to your inner child as I ask you to sign up to waiving the costs of opening some of Wandsworth’s residential streets to our children on Car Free Day.

I’m not certain what the actual cost is to open a minor residential, as in almost a year of asking I’ve had the wooliest of answers and it seems I’m given the costs for closing big roads.  Experience throughout the country has shown that with some clever placement of cheap cones and the good will of the people, this can be a cheap day out.   Lots of councils are doing this.  And we should too.

I need your commitment to the concept of Play Streets.  This is when we open up the street to children for safe play.  Almost half of Wandsworth residents live car- free, and I’m certain that drivers won’t begrudge taking a detour down the next street for one day of the year, or possibly joining in the fun of walking or cycling on Car Free Day.  It’s about encouraging change.

You believe that we don’t need to do this because we have ‘an abundance of green space’.  We do have parks around us, and we love to take our kids at the weekends when the working week is done but some parents work weekends, or have other responsibilities and cannot do this at all.

Our kids can’t go to parks alone as there are so many cars on the big roads and very few safe places to cross.  I measured an entire kilometre of Garratt Lane without any crossing place, not even a basic pedestrian refuge.  This isn’t about park life.  It’s about giving our kids what we enjoyed, and we were perhaps the last generation to know: the joy of running around the street with our mates.

As our streets have been given over to traffic, many children only experience play when it is commoditised and branded as Flip Out or Go Ape.  For others, it just doesn’t exist and they are housebound, device dependent.  One in three of our children in Wandsworth leave primary school over-weight or obese.  Play is an essential solution to this.  But not over-complicated schemes and initiatives that parents are often too busy working to participate in.  I’m asking for simple, good old-fashioned street play.  For a few hours, of one day, out of the entire year.

Every year I organise our street party.  I do it to build our community.  I do it to watch the kids make new friends and race up and down on their skateboards and scooters.  I will continue to do it long after my kids have grown up.  There is no sound more beautiful than that of children playing and laughing.  The roar of a car and then the empty silence before the next one isn’t joyful or safe.

Cllr Cook, what would your eight year-old self ask you to do?  I’m hoping he’d say, come on, let’s try this thing out, let’s take back the street and race each other.  What do you say?  Let us kids play!

Jo Rigby

Earlsfield councillor, Deputy Leader of Wandsworth Labour
Street hopscotch champion, summer of ‘79

A blooming good business pays the Living Wage

Labour councillors Tony Belton and Kate Stock visit Battersea Flower Station

Battersea Flower Station is perfectly described on their website as a ‘beautiful and magic place in the heart of Wandsworth’.

Visiting Battersea Flower Station is like taking a trip to a true ‘secret garden’, full of plants, flowers, shrubs and pots, with a quaint tin shed gift shop.

John is the founder of this independent local business, which opened six years ago.  John share some local history with us: the site is where the horses from Battersea Park were kept, and before that where the barrows from the market on Battersea High Street were stored, and before that, a long time ago, there was a flower shop at the Battersea Park Road entrance.

All the team at Battersea Flower Station are paid at least Living Wage.  This is really important to John in keeping the team valued and cherished.  Retail is a tough world right now, and there is so much online competition for plants and flowers. None of the big-name supermarkets or online florists are accredited as Living Wage employers.

Battersea Flower Station is a very special place in our community and we’d encourage people to support it.  Christmas trees will be available from December 1st and you can book a flower delivery across South London six days a week.

Thank you, Battersea Flower Station, for being blooming marvellous and we wish you every success.