Save Our High Streets!

Wandsworth Labour Group will put forward a proposal to protect our high streets at next Wednesday’s Council meeting. Town centres

‘This Council notes the tremendous contribution made by our Town Centre Managers to the five Town Centres spread across the Borough – Tooting, Balham, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Town and Putney. The challenges they have faced in addressing the need to maintain and improve our Town Centres are not to be under-estimated and they have worked hard to maximise vibrancy.

Maintaining a diverse and thriving range of shops giving the current level of applications for betting shops is proving difficult, and this Council is concerned that improvements seen to our Town Centres over recent years might be threatened.

This Council resolves:

1.) To retain and support the team of Town Centre Managers, who have developed close relationships with local businesses and are best placed to maintain and oversee further improvement in our Town Centres;

2.) To work closely with the Police, as an adequate police presence is required to deter pickpockets and street robbery, and to deal with anti-social behaviour;

3.) To instruct officers to investigate options for increasing staff able to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for littering, dog fouling, fly-tipping and parking offences;

4.) To closely scrutinise applications by gambling outlets and payday lenders – ensuring our High Streets are not over-run with betting offices and slot machines.’

Find out how you can help here:


Local Business Criticises Town Centre Cleaning Cuts

Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce has hit out at the Tories’ plan to cut back on street cleaning in the Borough’s town centres: “The chamber is concerned that the town centres are kept clean and tidy. The decision to reduce cleaning should be monitored and evaluated to ensure standards of cleanliness do not suffer. Businesses need all the support they can get right now.”

Labour’s Cllr. Sheila Boswell told a council meeting last week ‘The decision will have a detrimental impact particularly on Tooting Town Centre, Putney High Street and the shopping area around Clapham Junction. The council claims to be on the side of businesses, but this seems hollow when these cuts will do nothing to help attract shoppers, boost the night time economy or enhance residents’ enjoyment of their local shopping areas’

Tooting Broadway tube station alone has over 40,000 enters and exits each weekday – 50% of these in the late afternoon early evening, which is precisely the time daily cleansing of the busiest areas will be cut. Putney High Street already has some of the poorest air quality and highest pollution levels in London: from next April Putney residents and visitors will be faced with some of the capital’s dirtiest streets too.

Cllr. Boswell asked: ‘What’s the point of carrying out a consultation if you’re not going to consult with the most heavily affected groups in this case local businesses or where you have consulted with the public not listened to what they have to say.’

 ‘Before these cuts are implemented in April next year the Council must properly consult with town centre businesses and review timings for street cleaning in the new contracts to include night time rounds.’

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and here…

Sacking the Parks Police is a False Economy

By Christian Klapp, Labour’s Candidate for Putney Thamesfield

On 5th April the Council voted through a plan to sack all 24 of the borough’s Parks Police officers. Let me just repeat that: every single parks police constable is being sacked by Wandsworth Council. Let’s talk about the context of that decision.

The cuts to the Metropolitan Policing budget that Boris Johnson is implementing, that will see 1,000 police officer posts abolished. In an attempt to minimise the damage these cuts will have, Boris has offered London boroughs a deal to fund a police officer. Wandsworth has decided to take up this offer: they are buying eight officers, and that will – supposedly – safeguard another eight borough police officers’ jobs. And it’s in that context that Wandsworth are terminating the jobs of all 24 of our Parks Police officers. So on the one hand we have eight police jobs underwritten by Wandsworth Council Taxpayers. On the other we lose 24 Parks Police. Not a very good exchange rate, is it?

 What do the Parks Police do? Well, most obviously they patrol our parks, cemeteries and open spaces. Wandsworth has 800 acres of such land that it is responsible for. They are attested constables and have powers of arrest while enforcing byelaws and parks regulations. And they secure parks and cemeteries – like Wandsworth Park; like Leaders Gardens; like Putney Cemetery on the Common – at night to stop anti social behaviour and crime in these unlit spaces. They also raise for the council £250,000 in income from policing big events.

 The council hopes that sacking 24 Parks Police and employing 8 “full” police will provide the same level of service for less money. I hope you’re as sceptical as I am that this could be the case.

For a start, redundancy payouts for the 24 sacked Parks Police will cost more than three years’ worth of projected savings.

Second, the council is unable to tell us whether the eight Police Officers they’re going to fund are new officers in addition to existing levels, or will simply underwrite existing posts. If police numbers fall still further in Wandsworth over coming years, will the excuse be: “yes, but that’s eight officers more than we would otherwise have”? How can we guarantee that these officers will be safeguarded? No one seems able to explain that.

Third, these officers will be employed and line-managed by Wandsworth Police, not Wandsworth Council. They will answer to the Met – as they should and will be required to address Met priorities, not parks priorities.

Fourth, given they work for the Met, it is surely eminently reasonable that any income they generate will go to the Met, not the council. Have you ever heard of anyone doing a job for one organisation but an entirely separate one being paid for their efforts? No, neither have I.

Finally – and most importantly – this big reduction in staffing levels raises the spectre of our parks and cemeteries being left unlocked at night. Would you be comfortable with a vast, unlit space like Wandsworth Park being open to all, all night? Or Leaders Gardens? Or a cemetery? I’m really not.

 All the points above have been put to the council. Despite approving the cut, they have been unable to answer any of the questions. They’ve won no assurances. And yet councillors decided to press ahead without knowing the answers or having the full picture. Doesn’t Putney have a high enough crime rate already without adding parks to the problem? Send me to the Town Hall and I’ll ask the tough questions and won’t give any measure my vote until I’ve been given a satisfactory answer. That in itself will be a change for Putney

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