Wandsworth Labour does not support Formula E in Battersea Park

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Wandsworth Labour councillors will not support the return of Formula E to Battersea Park next summer.

Councillor Rex Osborn, Wandsworth Labour leader, said: “We feel that the Conservative council are trying to steamroller through a decision to welcome Formula E back to Battersea Park against the very strong opposition by local residents who feel this is absolutely not the right event to be hosted in this Grade II listed park.

“There is a long list of ways in which Formula E did not organise the event in the way they had promised and we don’t feel that very much would improve if it happens again.”

A council report showed that 62% of local residents opposed the event and there were very serious concerns about safety, noise and lengthy disruption to Battersea Park during three normally busy summer weeks.

The event proved far more disruptive to Battersea Park users than was anticipated, according to local groups, a large petition and the council’s own public consultation.

Wandsworth councillors will make the decision on the future of Formula E in Battersea Park at a Town Hall committee meeting on November 24.

Formula E had promised an environmentally significant event with a short set-up and take-down time. However the event was beset with problems including: lack of consultation with residents; a much longer and more disruptive and unsafe set-up time; more reduced access to the park than expected; heavy machinery to create the concrete race barriers; excessive noise from loudspeakers and helicopters.

There had been plans to increase provision of electric power points in the borough and directly support the use of electric cars, but this has not happened. Wandsworth Labour remains very supportive the development of electric vehicles and appreciates the environmental aims of Formula E. While the races proved an enjoyable event for those who attended, Battersea Park is not the right venue for a motor racing event of this scale.

Councillor Fleur Anderson, Community Services Committee Spokesperson said: “Wandsworth Council needs to take consultations with residents seriously and if they do so, they cannot continue with this event.”

“We have had a steady stream of emails from local residents opposing this event very strongly and claiming that they have not had any response from the Leader of the Council. The council has also not said how it would spend the revenue from the event, so residents cannot put up with this amount of disruption to their local park if they cannot see any benefit.”

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Wandsworth parents ask builders to quit bulldozing playground

By Alexandra Rucki – Wandsworth Guardian
A stand-off between builders and parents took place this morning, after bulldozers began to destroy equipment at an adventure playground. 

A handful of campaigners asked builders to stop pulling down the adventure playground in York Gardens, Lavender Road, this morning.

Parks police were called to the park in Wandsworth, with the builders promising to save a skate board built by children who use the park.

Read more here:

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/9960819.

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KIDS COMPANY OFFER TO SAVE ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND

Read the full story in the Wandsworth Guardian here.

Rescue Plan For Battersea Adventure Playground

Wandsworth’s Labour councillors are pleased to support the bid by London Play to save Battersea Park Adventure Playground.

London Play are a charity organisation, now proposing a welcome plan to keep the threatened playground in Battersea Park open, as a fully-staffed adventure playground.

London Play’s plan would see the Council cease its plans to disassemble the adventure playground and instead reallocate the funds for the planned refurbishment to fund an interim period, keeping the playground open with current staff.

This would pave the way for London Play to create a new model for playgrounds in Battersea Park, using the voluntary group London Play Association to run the facilities in the long term.

This model had been has already been pursued successfully in Tower Hamlets with cooperation with the Labour council.

In response to a Council question Kathy Tracey, Cabinet member for Education said: “London Play have suggested that they will develop firm proposals and officers are now waiting for these to be provided, so that they can be given proper consideration by myself and officers.  If a proposal is made by London Play or by any other suitable organisation that maintains a staffing presence on site at no cost to the council, it will of course be considered carefully.’

Cllr Sheila Boswell said:  “Whilst the high profile and hard fought campaign by residents and the local community to stop the council charging children to play in Battersea Park Adventure Playground was successful, the compromise offered by the council to keep access free of charge but remove the imaginative adventure play equipment and get rid of the experienced on site play workers was still lacking.  Therefore I am delighted it is now being challenged by groups of concerned local parents and users who believe that all children should have the right to adventurous play especially those living in an inner city environment.

“The offer from London Play Association – a well established organisation – to takeover the running of the playground and crucially keep the on site play workers and the adventure play equipment so enjoyed by local children is to be welcomed.

“I hope the Council will give it it’s full support and provide the necessary transition funding to make it happen. If successful, perhaps a similar model could be used for adventure play parks in York Gardens and at Kimber Road in Southfields, which are also facing the loss of vital on site play workers and adventurous play equipment.”

Council Calls In Police To Halt Peaceful Pay2Play Protest

 By our man in Battersea Park

Wednesday seemed like the perfect day to go to Battersea Park to continue our ‘No pay to play’ campaign. It was national ‘Playday’ – a celebration of the child’s right to play – so what better time to remind everybody that the Tory council in Wandsworth are still hell-bent on charging children £2.50 to use the adventure playground in the park. It was of course an added bonus for us that the council’s Play and Community Services department (the very people trying to charge the children and certainly a department in the running for hypocrites of the year award) had arranged an event right next to the adventure playground in honour of the day.

The morning got off to a wonderful start and with the sun beaming, posters printed, flyers made, petitions on clipboards, drinks and snacks ready, Jack and I set off to the park (poor young Jack carrying the pasting table full of posters and flyers all the way there…and back). We arrived just before twelve midday, I went to the Parks Office (I had been advised to do this) to let them know we were there and what we planned on doing, the lovely lady there said it was fine so we set up our beautiful stall.

Unfortunately, the people from the council weren’t too pleased about this, Kathy Tracey – Cabinet Member for Education – was due any minute and they felt it wasn’t really the look they were going for, so they decided the best course of action was to call the police. In fact not only did they call the police but they told them there was a ‘group protest’ taking place without stating any numbers. Next thing we knew three police cars turned up and they had us surrounded…  I explained to them they were just in time as we were about to start kicking bins over!

After what was a lot of fussing I am now the proud owner of a Wandsworth Parks Constabulary Bye-laws Handbook, which basically points out that you cannot to anything, and I mean anything, for example “no person shall….take part in any public assemblage in any park, garden or open space” – which seems a little unfair, no more family picnics I’m afraid! Also “no person shall… enter in to any public discussion or cause” and “no person shall distribute any bill, placard, or other printed or written matter” – I’m afraid with their mighty bye-laws handbook they had us beat. But we weren’t going to let that stop us; there is certainly nothing about what you can wear…

 By this point a couple of the Women of Wandsworth mums had joined us, we were forced to take down the table and pack up but then the police left so we all put posters on our backs, and engaged in public discussion (i.e. we went round collecting signatures pointing at Kathy Tracey, saying it was all her fault and they called the police on us for trying to demonstrate) Everybody was on our side, we got over 100 signatures and really got up some noses, so all in all a good day I’d say – we were just lucky to get out of there without being kettled!

For more information on ‘No pay to play’ please visit http://wesaynopay2play.com