Labour re-drew the political map of Wandsworth on Thursday night, winning council seats in Putney, Battersea and Tooting. Roehampton ward gained two Labour councillors, Sue McKinney and former Lib-Dem candidate Jeremy Ambache. In Battersea Labour held Latchmere comfortably and gained a seat in Queenstown for Sally-Ann Ephson.
But the biggest prize of the night was three Labour gains in Tooting – two in Bedford ward, where Rosena Allin-Khan and Fleur Anderson both defeated Tory candidates and in Earlsfield where Rachel Stokes also won a seat from the Conservatives.
Labour strongholds Graveney and Furzedown showed massively increased majorities and Tooting was won comfortably, despite a desperate attempt by the Tories to take it. In Tooting ward Annamarie Critchard was newly elected to replace Sheila Boswell, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate in Putney and in Graveney ward Alaina Mcdonald replaced retiring Councillor Dr. Billi Randall.
With 19 Councillors to the Conservatives 41 this is the biggest Labour group since the 1980’s and Tooting now has more Labour than Tory Councillors for the first time since 1986.
Labour Group Leader Rex Osborn said: “We held every gain we made in 2010 and made six more gains. The people of Wandsworth are sending a message to the Conservatives. They are no longer convinced by this tired, out-dated, inward looking, bonus obsessed, Conservative council.”
Planning permission for two Coral betting shops near Tooting Broadway tube has been refused by Wandsworth Council’s Planning Application Committee. This follows a swell of opposition by local residents, local Labour Councillors and MP for Tooting Sadiq Khan.
Wandworth Councillors voted against granting planning permission for the betting shop at 64 Tooting High Street on design grounds, and at the site of the former H Samuels at 17A Mitcham Road, on grounds that it would not be in keeping with the character of the town centre. Approval of the applications would have brought the number of betting shops in Tooting up to 24.
Local MP Sadiq Khan had raised objections to both applications to Wandsworth Council on behalf of the local community, urging the council to listen to residents’ concerns and to take action to encourage diversity on Wandsworth’s high streets.
Following government changes to the rules on high street planning, last year, which has made it easier for betting shops to open in our town centres, Sadiq recently launched his ‘Save Our High Street’ campaign. The campaign calls on the government to give more power to residents to shape our high streets and local councils to be given power to control the number of betting shops that open – a power they don’t currently possess.
Sadiq Khan MP said:
“Like many local residents I am relieved that Wandsworth Council have refused planning permission for yet another two bookies in Tooting. We already have too many, and certainly don’t want any more, and that is why alongside the community I have been so vocal in my objections.
“The response to the ‘Save Our High Street’ campaign, with hundreds of people already adding their name to the petition in the last month, has demonstrated the strength of feeling against more betting shops.
“Coral can still appeal these decisions – and if they are successful this would mean local views are ignored. The lack of Council powers to control the number of betting shops that open in our community needs to change – and I would encourage people to sign the petition now – to send a clear message to the government; that we need to say no to more betting shops.”