Wandsworth Labour: ‘We’d Bring In Lower Council Tax This Year’

By Cllr. Rex Osborn, Leader of  Wandsworth Labour Group

The council tax is a regressive tax which penalises the private rent-payer, the council rent-payer, the elderly and the less well off. This time of recession is not the time to increase it and Labour has a way of saving an extra £5m to which the Conservatives are opposed. Rex
With many households across Wandsworth still feeling the squeeze, the Labour Group believes the Council should be doing everything it can to help residents this year – not putting up Council tax at a time when residents can least afford it.
Furthermore, we’re alarmed at its decision to gamble with £500,000 of taxpayers’ money, by betting that some clever accounting will ensure it qualifies for the Government’s council tax freeze grant. If it doesn’t pay off, residents will be left with higher council tax as well as another £500,000 hole in the Council’s budget.
The Labour Group supports the exploration of a rationalisation of Council departments – but we’re concerned that these proposals are not thought through and that the Tory Leader, Cllr. Govindia,  has committed the Council to an unrealistic time-frame.
By announcing these half-baked plans without understanding all the repercussions, the Leader has left hundreds of Council employees fearing for their jobs, and concerned about the uncertainty which now lies ahead.
We would urge the Tories to slow the process down, and understand all the options before committing to any radical overhaul of the Council.”

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Councillor Calls For Justice In Riot Eviction Case

In response to Wandsworth Council’s eviction order of an alleged looter, his mother and eight year old sister local Battersea Councillor Tony Belton said: “I was appalled by the rioting in Clapham Junction, where I have lived for more than 30 years. Those found guilty should be jailed and will carry the shame with them for the rest of their lives.
“Yet the council leader has chosen to ignore the basic principles of justice in a rush for newspaper headlines. If Daniel Sartain-Clarke is guilty he should face the full force of the law. What is completely unfair is Cllr Govindia judging this young man guilty before he has faced any trial – and then vindictively threatening to make his mother and a blameless eight-year-old child homeless as extra punishment.
“Maite de la Calva, Daniel’s mother, works hard to support members of her community in the Shaftesbury Christian Centre. Throwing Maite and her eight-year-old daughter out of their home will weaken this neighbourhood, not make it stronger. This morning, before visiting Maite, I joined dozens of volunteers from across London in clearing out the community garden on the Doddington Estate. In the horrible aftermath of the riots it is important that we all work to repair the fabric of society and remain true to the basic safeguards of our legal system.”

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Wendy Speck, Wandsworth’s Labour Group’s new speaker on education has criticised Tory Leader Ravi Govindia’s economically unrealistic plans for “five or six” new free schools in the borough. Cllr Speck, a former headteacher, said “The Tory Council has already voted to spend £13 million for one ‘Free’ school site. This is not good value for money, particularly at a time when many of our current schools desperately need repairs.”

In July 2010 the Conservative-led government scrapped Building Schools for the Future, a programme that would have invested £300m in Wandsworth to rebuild or refurbish every state secondary school in the borough. “At a time when we are being told that the council needs to cut £70m, Cllr Govindia is committing tens of millions of pounds we simply don’t have to create schools we don’t need. Every free school that opens will take funding and pupils away from existing schools.

“There are many very good schools in Wandsworth, including in the most deprived areas. Wandsworth is one of the three best performing Local Education Authorities in the country with a proven track record of turning round schools in trouble. We should celebrate this success. “School standards across Wandsworth have doubled over the past ten years – thanks to hard work from teachers and pupils, investment from the Labour government and dedicated support from the Local Education Authority.

 “Cllr Govindia’s plan is political, not based on needs of our children. It won’t improve education and it will harm existing schools. We need policies based on fairness and compassion – this plan for encouraging ‘Free’ schools is based on neither.”