Wandsworth Council Chief Exec Gets £20k Cash Boost Despite £120m Budget Cuts

Fury has erupted after figures released show the council’s chief executive received an extra £20,000 while the local authority was cutting millions of pounds from its budget and shedding scores of jobs.Town hall

Details emerged from the council annual accounts for 2012-13 showing council chief executive Paul Martin’s pay, including bonuses and pension payments, rocketed from £254,880 to £274,224.

The council has been accused of double standards as the 7.6 per cent rise appears to contradict a three-year pay freeze for workers, only lifted in 2013-14 to allow for a 1 per cent rise.

Read more here:

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/10992142.Council_chief_exec_get___20k_cash_boost_despite___120m_budget_cuts/?ref=mr

TORIES TELL SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN TO TAKE THE BUS

The Wandsworth Tories are proposing a new transport scheme which seeks to ‘encourage independence’ for children with special educational needs (SEN). 

The Tory Council’s main proposal is to, as standard, reimburse parents for travel costs – such as by public transport or by their own car – rather than having the council provide that transport as before by specially adapted bus or taxi.

Children will now have to undergo more rigorous, annual tests to be deemed as still eligible for specialist SEN transport from the Council.

Wandsworth Labour councillors are concerned that the costs of these proposals could outweigh any benefits.

Whilst appreciating the need to use budgets efficiently, Wandsworth Labour shares parents’ concerns that these changes will be forced upon children for whom they are simply not appropriate.

The added burden could also cause massive upheaval for many families. During the consultation, working parents were concerned that they simply would not be able to manage to transport all their children to different locations.

Some parents fear these changes could have an adverse impact on their child’s school attendance, or even their own employment.

Cllr Rex Osborn, Leader of Wandsworth Labour group, is challenging the rationale for these proposals:

“Not only will these changes cause real difficulties for many families, it is also not clear that a broad range of options have been considered.

“Transport arrangements for children with Special Educational Needs do need to be updated and improved, but parents are seriously concerned by the proposals the Tories are currently advocating.

“I don’t feel the impact of these changes has truly been considered. This is why I’m arguing for a full Equality Impact Assessment to be undertaken. Under this kind of scrutiny I think it would become clear that costs to the children and their families outweigh the benefits of this policy as it stands.”

LABOUR STANDS UP FOR WANDSWORTH COMMUNITY SAFETY

Labour councillors challenged the Conservative administration at last week’s meeting of Wandsworth Council over the dangerous triple threat of cuts to council community safety teams, huge national police cuts and the threatened closure of local police stations.

Rex Osborn

Labour councillors called a debate on cuts to the council’s community safety teams, which are to be slashed by 25%.

During the debate, Cllr Rex Osborn, Leader of the Labour Group, brought silence to the Conservative benches when it was revealed they were clueless over the potential threat to Lavender Hill police station, which Labour have been raising concerns over for some time.

A response to questioning by Labour councillors also revealed that Wandsworth’s police Safer Neighbourhood Teams are currently understaffed by a staggering 31 PCSOs. No firm assurances were offered as to when and how this problem would be rectified.

In the context of 20% cuts to policing nationally, and a known 1,200 officers lost between 2010-12 in London alone under Boris Johnson, Labour is concerned about the risk this poses to community cohesion and safety.

Cllr Osborn, Leader of the Labour Group, said: “The Council’s own paper acknowledges that community safety is a priority for the residents of Wandsworth – yet it still plans to push ahead with cuts to its front line community safety staff. At the same time, it refuses to acknowledge that the future of Lavender Hill police station is in doubt, in spite of confirmation from the Mayor of London’s office that it has been pre-approved for closure and disposal.

“Given that Lavender Hill station is just metres away from one of the worst affected areas by last summer’s riots, Wandsworth residents rightly expect their Council to fight for its future now – rather than wait until a decision to sell it off has been finalised.

“Although Labour councillors understand that cuts need to be made during these difficult economic times, we would prioritise and protect community safety services – as residents have told us they would want us to – and find savings elsewhere.”

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.

Parents_ask_builders_to_quit_bulldozing_playground/

 

TORIES SLASH FUNDING FOR SCHOOL CROSSING PATROLS

From next January Wandsworth Council will cut all funding for School Crossing Patrols (‘lollipop’ men and women), with schools asked to find alternate means to pay for them.

At last night’s meeting of Wandsworth Council Tory councillors voted down an amendment by Labour councillors that would have saved the school crossing patrols, and likewise denied representations by Labour’s Cllr James Daley to commit to ensuring no funding would be axed for any individual school until such time as replacement funding for patrols was in place.

Labour councillors, parents and campaigners were also left deeply disappointed by the decision taken by Tory councillors to deny the chance to debate cuts to School Crossing Patrols by foreclosing the Council meeting.

Cllr James Daley said, “Rather than working with communities and schools to find ways of ensuring that our children are safe on their journeys to school, the Tories voted to wash their hands of all responsibility for school crossing patrols, and committed to a withdrawal of funding in less than six months time.

“There are limited ways for schools to raise the funds, and the risk is that School Crossing Patrols will simply be forced to stop. This poses a real threat to the safety of school children across the borough.”

Cllr Sheila Boswell said, “The Tories cut funding for ‘lollipop people’ without even allowing the concerns of local residents, parents and opposition Councillors to be heard. They have shown where their true priorities lie, and it isn’t with the borough’s children. This decision is totally out of touch with what people across this borough want.”

Sadiq Khan MP, who is campaigning to improve road safety around local schools said, “Wandsworth have behaved appallingly on this issue – schools feel they haven’t been consulted properly, parents and residents have had no opportunity to protest these changes, and now the Council has cynically shut opposition councillors out of the debate.

“This is the wrong move by Wandsworth Council – they should be working in co-operation with local schools, parents and councillors – not ignoring them. If the council wants community involvement then it needs to engage with the community.

“The truth is there has been no thought put into the wider issue of road safety and the impact these plans will have. Wandsworth Council will regret this decision.

“Nationally we’re seeing what happens when councils cut road safety spending – more people are killed and seriously injured on our roads. Wandsworth Council don’t want to follow the examples set by St Helens, Portsmouth, Stoke on Trent, Coventry and other councils who have cut spending on road safety and seen huge increases in the number of people killed or injured.

“The contribution school crossing patrols make to keeping children and families safe on the way to and from school is highly valued. These plans are out of touch with what parents and local residents want, and they seem ill-thought out.

“Schools with private funding will be able to pay for their own patrols, while the rest will be left without, or forced to rely on volunteers. Most local parents can’t afford to pay – why should their children’s lives be put at risk as a result?

“Wandsworth Council should scrap these plans – go back to the drawing board and work with local schools on proper plans to help keep the roads around them safe.”

TORIES PLAN TO CUT SCHOOL CROSSING PATROLS

By Sadiq Khan MP

Tonight, at 7:30pm, a full council meeting at Wandsworth Town Hall will vote on removing funding for all the school crossing patrols (‘lollipop’ men and ladies) across the borough. 

This means from January 2013 schools will be expected to fund them themselves.  But most schools are not allowed to do this with their main funding, and do not have other available funds to pay for this.

At best, schools will have to rely on volunteers and goodwill to provide this vital service. At worst, many schools will simply lose their crossing patrols.

It’s my firm belief that Wandsworth Council, and councillors, have got it completely wrong on this issue.  Their first priority should be keeping our children safe – not penny pinching.  Nationally local authorities are cutting funding on road safety – the result has been more people killed and seriously injured on our roads.  We can’t have this happen in Wandsworth – we should be working for improve road safety, not making cuts that remove some of the most effective measures to keep our children safe on local roads.

What can you do?

1.       Attend the council meeting tonight at Wandsworth Town Hall (Wandsworth High Street, London, SW18 2PU – map) and show the council you oppose these plans.  You won’t be alone.  Dozens of parents and teachers have contacted me to tell me they’ll be attending –meet at 7pm at the Town Hall main lobby.

2.       Sign the petition on Wandsworth Council’s website again these dangerous cuts.

3.       Email your local councillor (you can find their contact details here) and ask them to vote   against these cuts tonight.

Wandsworth schools lose out under new school building scheme

Labour councillors are disappointed that only one Wandsworth School is to benefit from the Priority School Building Programme, announced today by Michael Gove. 

After significant delays in announcing the chosen schools, it was today revealed that Chestnut Grove School, a local Academy, is the only school to be chosen in Wandsworth to receive funding under the new scheme, despite many remaining in desperate need of maintenance and repair work to their buildings.

This scheme replaces Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme, which the Coalition quickly scrapped in its first few weeks, cancelling school building plans for more than 700 schools nationally. Now, just 261 schools are to receive support under Michael Gove’s PFI-funded plans.

Cllr Sheila Boswell, Wandsworth Labour’s spokesperson for Education said,

“Whilst I welcome this funding for Chestnut Grove, many other schools in Wandsworth are also in grave need of investment for their buildings; the kind of investment they would have received under Labour. The Elliott School is in very poor repair, as well both Graveney School and Battersea Park School who were due to be helped under Labour’s Building Schools for the Future Programme – all are now losing out under the Coalition.

“This shows the government’s lack of commitment to investing in education, leaving schools in conditions barely adequate to teach in. This despite the fact we know pressure on schools is growing, as more and more pupils each year are applying for places. Labour in Wandsworth want parents to have real choice of great Wandsworth schools, but this choice is diminished when certain schools are left in poor condition. Unlike the Conservatives, Labour would make this a priority”.


GOVERNMENT CUTS CREATING SEVERE POLICE SHORTAGE FOR WANDSWORTH

Cuts to police funding has led to severe under-staffing amongst Wandsworth’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams. The Tory-led Government’s 20 per cent cuts to policing go too far too fast and are already having a damaging impact on police forces here in Wandsworth, and across the country. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has estimated that these front-loaded cuts will lead to the loss of over 16,000 police officers over the next 4 years.

Wandsworth Labour councillors are concerned by the resultant lack of neighbourhood policing, and the effect this will have on local neighbourhood safety. Despite the duty for Safer Neighbourhood Teams to be represented by a minimum team of 6 for an average ward – comprising of 1 Sergeant, 2 PCs and 3 PCSOs – a majority in Wandsworth fall well short of this level.

Cuts to the police have meant that wards like Tooting are represented by only 2 police officers, and no PCSOs – despite the fact Tooting presents higher crime rates when compared to other areas with comparatively better police representation. The stretch on local policing is exacerbated by the fact that many personnel are forced to serve two neighbourhoods concurrently. According to police reports, this affects as many as 10 wards.

Cllr Leonie Cooper London Assembly candidate for Merton and Wandsworth said, “As Mayor, Boris Johnson has completely failed to stand up for Londoners and police numbers have plummeted. Even worse than Tooting, Furzedown ward only has 1 officer – the Sergeant. This is a disgrace. In May, Labour will reverse the Tory Mayor’s cuts to community policing, supporting all Safer Neighbourhood Teams across London. This would reverse this worrying shortage in Wandsworth, and help keep our streets safe.”

The Facts:

  • Boris Johnson has cut 1,700 police officers across London during the last 2 years.
  • More than 10,000 police officers in England and Wales are to be cut over the next two years.
  • The number of police dealing with 999 emergencies has fallen by more than 5,000 since the last general election.
  • Now, after years of declining crime rates under Labour, the latest British Crime Survey figures showed personal crime – including theft, robbery and violence – has gone up by 11% since last year, the steepest rise for more than a decade.

 

Families with children will be worst affected by falling incomes study finds

Grim predictions for UK family finances up to 2015 revealed in new evidence produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) for the Family and Parenting Institute (FPI)

The median income among families with children is projected to fall between 2010 and 2015 by 4.2%. For a couple with two children this equates to £1,250 less a year by 2015

Families with children aged under five, families with more than two children, and lone parent families not in paid work bear the biggest financial pain in years ahead

An Institute for Fiscal Studies report, commissioned by the Family and Parenting Institute, is the first to reveal the prospects for poverty rates and income for different family types up to the year 2015.

Read the report here:

http://www.familyandparenting.org/news/Press-releases/2012+Press+Releases/Families+with+children+will+be+worst+affected+by+falling+incomes+study+finds.htm