Wandsworth council should uphold its long tradition of supporting refuges and commit to accommodate at least 10 refugee families urgently, says Wandsworth Labour.
Councillor Fleur Anderson has put forward a motion “to welcome, support and accommodate refugees” to this Wednesday’s council meeting (full text below).
Fleur says: “’Like so many people I have been very moved by the stories of so many refugees fleeing their countries and needing to find safety. I felt it could have been me and my family and want to make sure we do what we can to help.
“We can do things like give items for Calais and money, but our Council could play an important role too. I’ve been really disappointed by the Council’s inaction and just saying they will wait to hear from central government. They could be lobbying the government to do more, giving concrete pledges to show that we will welcome refugees in Wandsworth, and supporting local groups who are working flat out to support refugees already living here.
“I hope that they will show more compassion and step up their act after our debate on Wednesday.”
Motion to welcome, support and accommodate refugees in Wandsworth
This Council notes that:
Conflicts in the Middle East have created the largest refugee crisis in generations. With many refugees now in Europe and with winter approaching there is a need for urgent action.
The United Kingdom has played a leading role as one of the world’s top international donors to the region. However the UK has only accepted 216 Syrian refugees under the Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme since its launch in January 2014, and 5,000 Syrian refugees since 2011.
Wandsworth has a long tradition of supporting refugees, including by the South London Refugee Association who have a drop-in centre in Balham mainly run by volunteers which is currently almost overwhelmed by the numbers of people and severity of needs they see.
Pledge to accommodate at least 10 refugee families urgently if private accommodation is funded by central government and therefore without displacing those on existing housing lists, and encourage other London Boroughs to make a similar pledge by contacting all other Boroughs.
Become the first London ‘Borough of Sanctuary’ and facilitate coordination of refugee support with existing education, housing, immigration, employment, health, arts and other services.
Assess support for refugees by the Council and voluntary groups, and make a plan to address any gaps in support, including the South London Refugee Association, and the Katherine Low Settlement, and increase work with these groups to provide long-term support for refugee families.
Agree as a matter of urgency to authorise officers to accept refugees from Syria under the government’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, which is fully funded by central government for one year and to lobby the government to increase the length of the funding.
We are really worried about the recent accident which happened on Balham High Road involving a motorbike, and have seen several other accidents on the same stretch of road in the last year. So with your MP Sadiq Khan we have launched a petition to ask the Council and Transport for London to urgently work together to make this road safer.
In the meantime we have written and been talking with the Council, Transport for London and the local Police Commander – as a result you might have seen extra police officers at the Ritherdon Rd junction assessing the traffic along the road.
Balham Boulevard latest news
A couple of years ago a plan to make Balham High Road between the Ritherdon Road and Balham a much nicer environment was brought to the Council and agreed. This ‘Balham Boulevard’ plan was to change the current four lane highway into a two lane highway with a nice side road and more greenery and a café style to the pavements – making it a nice place to come to and not just move through. This has multi-million pound backing, and agreement for happen in 2017. But no plans have come about.
Fleur went to progress meeting at the Town Hall and was very disappointed to find that there has been no progress and that Transport for London have found it too hard to make any plans for the road yet. We will both be working with local groups and other Councillors to revive the project, agree a clear vision and hope to get it back on track.
Closure of Triangle nursery
Many local parents have been very upset that the Tooting Locality Nursery at the Triangle was suddenly closed at the end of the Summer term, another sad loss of a much loved facility for under 5s in the area.
Park Run – still on its way!
Park Run have been working on a course around Tooting Common which doesn’t go over any roads, doesn’t impact too much on the busiest paths (we hope) and is the necessary 5km.
The current plan is to start near the cricket pitch by Hillbury Road and go up or down the Chestnut Walk and use the bridleway. Using Chestnut Avenue may well be too busy and the grass on the other side of the lake too boggy in Winter so its still being worked on but is nearly there.
All being well it should be going to committee for approval in September – so hopefully it won’t be too long until we can be getting our trainers on every Saturday morning for Tooting Commons very own ParkRun and join thousands of others all over the country.
Balham Leisure Centre creche concerns – tell all young mums about the crèche!
Talking of facilities for under 5s, we love the refurbishment to Balham Leisure Centre, but no need for a crèche has be built into the contract between Enable and the Council. As a result there is no room especially designated for a crèche, no advertising of the crèche and as a result the morning facility currently in a squash court is in danger of being closed.
Talks are on-going with Balham Leisure Centre and we really hope that they continue to offer the crèche as it is vital to enabling young mums to get exercise at a time of life when too many young mums can be quite isolated.
Dr Johnson Ave closure consultation
Do you want Dr Johnson Avenue to be closed to traffic, grassed over and be a cycle track instead of a road? Whatever you think about this – do have your say here.
Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road road safety
Residents of Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road have felt for quite some time that traffic is increasing and getting faster and more aggressive with cyclists , other cars and even pedestrians. These are quite narrow roads with heavy traffic flow. Changes to Dr Johnson Avenue could have an impact on them, but this is an opportunity into how to make these roads safer too. We have raised this with the Council and also support the residents’ petition to the Council assessment of these rooads and options such as making them no through roads be considered.
‘Who put that there?’
All too often it is easy to forget how the day-to-day lives of the partially sighted can be so different to ours.
That is why we are extremely grateful to one Bedford resident who helped give us insight into life for the blind and partially sighted.
Did you know?
95 per cent of blind and partially sighted people have collided with an obstacle in their local neighbourhood over a three-month period.
Nearly a third of those were injured, yet less than one percent claimed compensation for injuries.
The most common obstacles collided with are:
– cars parked on pavements (70% )
– bins of all kinds (64%)
– permanent and temporary street furniture (59%)
We will be taking some walks around the ward to identify potential hazards but if you can think of any, please do get in touch!
‘Lets Talk’ and Tooting Town Centre Manager meetings
Lets Talk meetings are held regularly around Wandsworth and come to our ward every few years. Its a chance to speak directly to the Council Leader, opposition leader and lots of officers.
The Bedford Ward meeting was attended by about 30 people and the issues raised included: too many betting shops, Balham creche, Elmbourne Road safety, parking and speeding, investment in ‘Tooting Bec village’, litter and street cleaning around Tooting Bec station, hedges obstructing pavements, what will replace Barclays Bank, the ‘legal high’ shop on Garratt Lane, enforcement of the 20MPH zone and what is happening to Tooting Bec Lodge.
Issues for Tooting Common were: concerns about the removal of the white line and poor signage on the pedestrian/cycle track, floodlights when the triangle football pitch is renovated, rats, litter by the pond and repairs to the tennis court. Wider Borough issues raised were concerns about the lack of affordable housing and despite lots of new developments there is nowhere affordable for first/second time buyers, and what the merger of some services with Richmond council will mean for us.
Rosena and Fleur are following up on these issues, and this week raised many of them with the Tooting Centre Manager in meeting held with Sadiq Khan MP.
Bedford Hill side of the railway bridge – an eyesore
We’ve been to look at this neglected corner of Balham with a local resident and agree with him that this is an eyesore – lots of weeds, scrubland and graffiti. We’ve been in touch with Transport for London and the Balham Partnership to ask them to look into making something much nicer of this corner of land and of the railway bridge itself.
Stapleton Road improvements
There will be some upgrading of the Tooting Bec station end of Stapleton Road with a proposal for more trees, two way cycling, café tables, cycle hoops and clearer signs at each end of the one way. The consultation for this finishes on August 3rd.
Whilst we really welcome these improvements, we are disappointed that this is all that came of a much more ambitious scheme to look at all of the streets around Tooting Bec Station as ‘Tooting Bec Village’ and see what could be done to enhance the whole area. This is really needed but seems to have been dropped.
With the finances coming for the Tooting Broadway area roads, this maybe an opportunity to look again at the streets around Tooting Bec Station. I have talked about this with the Tooting Town Manager and will continue to work on this.
A new Wandsworth wide cycling strategyis being consulted on – whatever your views on cycling, or good ideas about how to increase cycling either on specific roads or generally – do add them to the consultation.
Air pollution is a very big issue for Londoners and kills 1400 of us every year, as well as contributing to lung and heart diseases. There is a new air quality plan for Wandsworth also out for consultation at the moment – do take some time to see if you think it could be improved or any comments you would like to make on it. The deadline is August 5th.
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.”