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 over 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.

The Living Wage makes sense to this financial expert

Councillor Jo Rigby at the Pentecostal Credit Union
Councillor Jo Rigby at the Pentecostal Credit Union

This week we are celebrating local businesses who have become accredited Living Wage Employers.

We spoke to Shane Bowes, the CEO of the Pentecostal Credit Union, based in Balham. The Pentecostal Credit Union was set up almost 40 years ago, and has a customer base across the UK.

We asked Shane about what led him to becoming Living Wage accredited.  The catalyst was hiring an apprentice, Lauren, and Shane’s unease about the apprenticeship guideline salary.

“You just can’t live on that kind of salary in the capital, it didn’t seem right and through some research I found out about the Living Wage. It’s calculated on the actual cost of living, and when the cost of living rises, so does the Living Wage.  This seemed to me to be a fairer guideline.” We were pleased to hear that following the apprenticeship, Lauren stayed on and has been there for over seven years.

We were interested in Shane’s point of view as a financial expert, and what his advice is to other businesses considering becoming Living Wage accredited. “I’d advise that businesses consider all the angles first, and do some long-term planning. What may seem to be an initial cost, can actually be a saving over time through high retention. It’s also a way of being more successful as your team are more committed to the goals that you have.”

The Pentecostal Credit Union sits alongside several blue-chip financial organisations who are also accredited Living Wage Employers, such as Aviva and Nationwide,

We want to thank the Pentecostal Credit Union for being a pioneer in Living Wage, this is not just about being a good employer, it is about good business sense.  We encourage other business and not-for-profit organisations to visit to learn more about becoming accredited and explore the benefits that you might be missing out on.

Living Wage week: A craft beer with a conscience

Charlie and Sam meet Labour councillor Jo Rigby to discuss the Living Wage
Charlie and Sam meet Labour councillor Jo Rigby to discuss the Living Wage

During Living Wage Week, we are celebrating local businesses who have become accredited Living Wage Employers.

We visited Gipsy Hill Brewery, set up by Charlie and Sam in 2014, with an early commitment to paying Living Wage. The Gipsy Hill Brewery team spotted the global trend towards craft beers early on, and have established themselves nationally, with a large fan base in South London.

Their business is also taking off over in Europe with distribution in Spain and Italy.  The brewery has a Tap Room right next door, with the finished barrels taking a short roll across the yard before being served at the bar.

We asked Charlie and Sam why it was important, as a fledgling business, that they became accredited as a Living Wage Employer. For them, it’s all about the team, and building a culture where all members feel that they are equally valued.

Sam spoke of his concerns about how our society is negatively impacted by increasing levels of inequality, and he sees the Living Wage as just one step to address this. They firmly believe that by being a Living Wage Employer, they have been able to retain a quality team, reducing the costs that come with a high staff turnover.  So far, they’ve not had anyone leave the brewing team!

Sam puts it simply, “If you feel valued, and are paid as if you’re valued, then you’re more likely to outperform over time. Pay people poorly and your staff turnover will be high with your team less likely to be invested in your success.”

Charlie told us about the things they do to create social inclusivity.  The Tap Room is fully accessible, and the tables have been set at wheelchair height.  This is an area that they would do much more in if business grants were available.

Research from the Living Wage Foundation shows that 86% of accredited employers agree that it has improved the reputation of their business.  With so many craft beers out there, customers can feel good about choosing a brand that cares about its carbon footprint, and about the people who brew and bottle their favourite after-work tipple.

Sam and Charlie, we’d like to say ‘cheers’ for becoming Living Wage accredited, you deserve every success as a business.

For more information about becoming a Living Wage Employer and to find out if the brands you choose pay Living Wage, visit

Living Wage week: A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay

Wandsworth Labour councillors supporting the Living Wage

Today is the start of Living Wage Week: a week of events to celebrate the 4,700 UK businesses and social enterprises who believe that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.

The real Living Wage is based on the cost of living and is voluntarily paid by thousands of start-ups, small to medium businesses, right up to global brands such as IKEA and Unilever.

The Living Wage is reviewed annually, and as the cost of living rises, so does the Living Wage. Each year, the Mayor of London announces the new Living Wage rate for London, as set by The Living Wage Foundation.  This morning Sadiq Khan announced that the rate was rising from £10.20 to £10.55 to cover the cost of living.

Paying the Living Wage is good news for society as it enables workers to do more than simply exist on minimum wage or zero hours contracts, it creates opportunity to start saving and building a future for themselves and their families.

Wandsworth Labour’s policy is to pay every council worker – whether on staff or on a contract – at least the London Living Wage.

There are so many families struggling in Wandsworth and the use of food banks is growing daily for people who are working.  We believe that one measure to lift people out of poverty is to be paid a Living Wage, and that includes workers under 25, who face the same challenges as workers over 25 in making ends meet.

The National Living Wage, set by the government, is based on a target to meet 60% of median wages by 2020. By 2020 this will be less than £9 per hour, which will keep people on or below the breadline.

The Living Wage brings real benefits to employers, 93% agree that their business has benefited since becoming accredited. One of the key benefits is that it drives down recruitment costs as employees feel more valued, 75% say that it has increased motivation and retention rates for employees.

Becoming Living Wage accredited means that you can use the Living Wage logo as you market your brand. Research shows that consumers feel better about buying products and services from brands that set out to do good in society.

Becoming accredited is a journey, with the first step being to assess any potential cost and savings for your business. It makes good business sense to know if your competitors are Living Wage accredited, it may be possible to take first mover advantage. The Living Wage Foundation is clear that this isn’t something that every business can do immediately. What we are asking for this week, is for employers to build their knowledge about Living Wage and consider the benefits that come with being accredited.

We encourage all businesses to visit to get to know the facts and read the case studies about accredited businesses.  And we encourage people to visit to check out who pays it so that you can consider supporting their business.

This week, Wandsworth Labour councillors will be celebrating the great local businesses that are already paying the Living Wage to their staff.

We want to thank every single one of the 4,700 employers around the country who have become accredited Living Wage employers. Every one of you has made a positive contribution to the lives of millions of workers and their families.

Volunteer to help us win Wandsworth

Thursday, 3rd May is election day. Help us make history by winning Wandsworth for the first time in 40 years.

Battersea, Putney and Tooting are the three constituencies in Wandsworth borough. Please pick the campaign HQ that is most convenient for you to get to:


Campaign centres open from 7am until 10pm

  • Flat 3, 6 Battersea Square (SW11 3RA)
  • Flat C Lucas Court, Strasburg Road (SW11 5JF)
  • 177 Lavender Hill (SW11 5TE) Contact: Carmel on 07752 708722


  • Putney Labour Party 35 Felsham Road (SW15 1AY)
    8am to 10pm
    0208 788 8961
  • The Vicarage 146a Lavenham Road (SW18  5EP)
    10am to 10pm
  • 106 Standen Road (SW18 5TG)
    10am to 10pm


Campaign centres open at from 7am until 10pm

  • Balham: 16 Elmfield Road (SW17 8AL)
  • Earlsfield: 25 Littleton Street (SW18 3SZ)

5,218 emergency food parcels given out by Wandsworth Foodbank last year, up 11%

According to figures released today by Wandsworth Foodbank, foodbank use in Wandsworth grew last year by 11%. Over the past 12 months, 5,218 three day emergency food parcels were provided to local people in crisis by Wandsworth Foodbank, compared to 4,712 the previous year. Of this number, 1,897 food parcels went to children.

According to Wandsworth Foodbank, the local increase is “due to people struggling with continued issues with benefit payments, including the impact of the recent roll-out of Universal Credit; insecure and low-paid work; and the difficulty in accessing local government support when financial crisis relates to benefit problems”.

Commenting on the figures, Cllr Simon Hogg, Leader of Wandsworth Labour, said: “Wandsworth Foodbank volunteers do an amazing job. But it’s very sad that we need Foodbanks at all in our community.

“The botched roll-out of universal credit is forcing some of our most vulnerable residents into hunger. Instead of providing support, Wandsworth’s Conservative council is making it harder for people to access emergency payments.

“A Wandsworth Labour council will bring new values, based on fairness and common sense.”

Last year a quarter of those reliant on foodbanks in Wandsworth were children, this year that figure has grown to 36%.

In response to the findings, Wandsworth Foodbank, with Citizens Advice Wandsworth, South West London Law Centres and the Katherine Low Settlement, is calling for Wandsworth Council to deliver high-quality, ongoing support for people claiming Universal Credit locally. The four charities have launched an online petition and are encouraging local people to sign it to show their support.

Ambitious for Children, Schools and Families

The local elections on Thursday May 3rd will give us all a say in the future of Education and Children’s Services in Wandsworth.

Come and hear Jeremy Ambache outline the Labour Party’s ambitious plans for children, schools and families in Wandsworth.

Wandsworth Education Question Time is on Wednesday, April 25 at Balham Baptist Church, 21 Ramsden Road, Balham, London SW12 8QX from 7pm to 9pm – just 5 minutes walk from Balham station. Everyone is welcome.

Services for vulnerable children have been badly neglected under the Tory Council in Wandsworth. When Ofsted inspected them recently, it rated them as Inadequate. The Council has spent £14 million trying to put right these failings. So what difference will a Labour Council make for local children and families?

A Labour Council will campaign to defend local schools from disastrous budget cuts which are causing bigger classes, fewer teachers and a squeeze on resources. Wandsworth schools face cuts of £7 million by 2020.

School funding is controlled by national government but a Labour Council will stand alongside schools and parents in opposing cuts. The current Tory Councillors won’t do this because they support the Tory government’s approach. A Labour council will be on the side of children and families.

Labour wants children’s services in Wandsworth to compare favourably with the best in London – efficient, with great results and properly resourced. Residents deserve that. That means recruiting the very best staff as teachers, headteachers and social workers.  And it means reversing the high turnover of staff caused by neglect of services.  We want Wandsworth to be the employer of first choice for those committed to vital public services.

Wandsworth is fortunate to have many outstanding schools.  They are led by inspirational headteachers and staffed with dedicated professionals. A Labour Council will always focus on academic success for our children. But we can do more. We want a broad curriculum, including cultural education, fitness and sport; as well as the personal and practical skills which are essential for adult life.

Young children are the future of our communities. Sure Start began as a simple, effective way to bring together services for young families (e.g. health, childcare and early learning) within a single programme. Labour will renew the Council’s commitment to Sure Start to give our youngest children the very best start in life.

Young people are our citizens of tomorrow. They achieve highly in our secondary schools. But opportunities for young people in the wider community (including music, sport, performing arts and volunteering) are patchy and uncoordinated. A Labour Council will work closely with young people to put this right. We want to see a proper youth strategy that’s as exciting and imaginative as our teenagers are.

Children’s physical and mental health is a high priority in a city environment. Growing up healthy is often the basis for other successes. Working with parents, schools and local businesses there is much that we can do to give all our children a healthy start. In particular, a Labour Council will prioritise healthy eating, clean air zones, exercise and fitness, and emotional health.

Finally, a Labour Council will reverse the Tory neglect of services for vulnerable children which led inspectors to call them Inadequate. We will prioritise improvement plans and ensure that Children’s Services are rated Good (or even better) under a Labour Council.

Read Wandsworth Labour’s manifesto