Wandsworth Labour Makes 6 Gains in Local Elections

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.

Rex Osborn - Labour Group Leader
Rex Osborn – Labour Group Leader

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.”

Full results here:

http://goo.gl/h14BXk

 

 

 

Election 2014: Wandsworth Council opposition leader Rex Osborn says Labour can keep council tax low and stop cuts

Read the story here:

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/11223050.display/?ref=twtrec

 

Promoted by D J Bellamy on behalf of Tooting Labour Party,
both at 273 Balham High Road, London, SW17 7BD
Published and promoted by Sean Lawless on behalf of 
Battersea Labour Party, 
both at 177 Lavender Hill, Battersea, London, SW11 5TE
Promoted by Fiona McLachlan on behalf of Putney Labour Party. 
Both at 35 Felsham Road London SW15 1AY

 

First victory for ‘Save our High Street’ campaign

Planning permission for two Coral betting shops near Tooting Broadway tube has been refused by Wandsworth Council’s Planning Application Committee. This follows a swell of opposition by local residents, local Labour Councillors and MP for Tooting Sadiq Khan. DSC_1703

Wandworth Councillors voted against granting planning permission for the betting shop at 64 Tooting High Street on design grounds, and at the site of the former H Samuels at 17A Mitcham Road, on grounds that it would not be in keeping with the character of the town centre. Approval of the applications would have brought the number of betting shops in Tooting up to 24.

Local MP Sadiq Khan had raised objections to both applications to Wandsworth Council on behalf of the local community, urging the council to listen to residents’ concerns and to take action to encourage diversity on Wandsworth’s high streets.

Following government changes to the rules on high street planning, last year, which has made it easier for betting shops to open in our town centres, Sadiq recently launched his ‘Save Our High Street’ campaign. The campaign calls on the government to give more power to residents to shape our high streets and local councils to be given power to control the number of betting shops that open – a power they don’t currently possess.

Sadiq Khan MP said:

“Like many local residents I am relieved that Wandsworth Council have refused planning permission for yet another two bookies in Tooting. We already have too many, and certainly don’t want any more, and that is why alongside the community I have been so vocal in my objections.

“The response to the ‘Save Our High Street’ campaign, with hundreds of people already adding their name to the petition in the last month, has demonstrated the strength of feeling against more betting shops.

“Coral can still appeal these decisions – and if they are successful this would mean local views are ignored. The lack of Council powers to control the number of betting shops that open in our community needs to change – and I would encourage people to sign the petition now – to send a clear message to the government; that we need to say no to more betting shops.”

WANDSWORTH COUNCIL LOSES £500,000 GAMBLE OVER TAX FREEZE GRANT

Rex 10Nov13
Rex Osborn: Labour Group leader

Tory-run Wandsworth Council has been left with an unexpected half a million pound hole in its budgets, after Secretary of State Eric Pickles refused to pay a council tax freeze grant to the authority.

Wandsworth Tories raised the Borough’s Council Tax by more than 3% last April, but gambled on using a loophole to still qualify for the government’s council tax freeze grant – worth £492,000.

But it has now emerged that Eric Pickles’ Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) refused to pay the grant.

Cllr Rex Osborn, leader of the Wandsworth Labour Group, said: “It’s bad enough that the Tories chose to make Wandsworth one of the only Councils in the country to raise Council Tax last year – at a time when residents could least afford it. But it’s beyond belief that they would also try to pull the wool over the eyes of their own Secretary of State, claiming that a 3% rise in council tax should still leave them qualifying for the Council tax freeze grant. Wandsworth’s Tories have gambled with taxpayers’ money and lost almost half a million pounds.

“Labour voted to freeze the Council Tax last year, and is committed to keeping taxes low in Wandsworth. That’s why we’ve appointed an independent Commission of local authority finance experts to come up with some sensible ways to protect frontline services and keep Council Tax low – two key challenges that the Tories have failed to meet. In this climate, we need a steady hand overseeing the coffers in Wandsworth, not a party who takes gambles with taxpayers’ money.”

Wandsworth Labour councillors launched their independent Commission last month. The Commission is chaired by Michael Ward, former Chief Executive of the London Development Agency, who is a long-term Wandsworth resident with more than 30 years’ experience in local government, as an officer, an elected member, and a researcher.

Michael is joined on the Commission by Martin Pilgrim, former Chief Executive of London Councils; Gareth Daniel, former Chief Executive of Brent Council; Stephanie Elsy, former Leader of Southwark Council; and George Kessler, Joint Managing Director of a London manufacturing business and a member of London First, the influential business organisation representing London’s leading employers.

Read more here:

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/archive/2014/01/22/10953858.Council_left_with___500_000_budget_black_hole_after_tax__gamble__backfires/

 

WANDSWORTH LABOUR LAUNCHES LOW COUNCIL TAX COMMISSION

Labour councillors in Wandsworth have launched an independent commission of local government finance and business experts from across London, to uncover fresh ways to keep council tax low in the Borough while maintaining crucial frontline services.
Wandsworth labour
The commission will be chaired by Michael Ward, former Chief Executive of the London Development Agency, who is a long-term Wandsworth resident with more than 30 years’ experience in local government, as an officer, an elected member, and a researcher.
The commission’s report will be independent of the Wandsworth Labour Group and the Wandsworth Labour Parties.

Michael will be joined on the commission by Martin Pilgrim, former Chief Executive of London Councils; Gareth Daniel, former Chief Executive of Brent Council; Stephanie Elsy, former Leader of Southwark Council; and George Kessler, Joint Managing Director of a London manufacturing business and a member of London First, the influential business organisation representing London’s leading employers.

Heavy cuts from the Tory-led Government have put local authority budgets under severe pressure since 2010. But Labour Councillors suspect that Wandsworth’s Tory Council no longer has a convincing long term strategic vision for the Borough, preferring to pursue damaging and penny-pinching savings.

The commission will produce its report in Spring 2014.

Councillor Rex Osborn, Leader of the Wandsworth Labour Group, said: “The Tory-led Government has imposed the biggest squeeze in history on local authority budgets, leaving local councillors with difficult choices to make. However, unlike Wandsworth Tories, who have demonstrated the wrong priorities – cutting back frontline services and toying with charging children to pay to use the Borough’s playgrounds – Labour believes there are better ways to balance the books and keep council tax low without penalising residents.

“That’s why I’ve asked an independent commission of local government and business experts to identify fairer ways to make the necessary savings. When voters go to the polls next May for the council elections, we will offer them a clear choice –more of the same from the Wandsworth Tories, or a fresh, fair approach from Labour, which will keep the council tax low.”

Michael Ward, chair of the commission, said: “I’ve lived in Wandsworth for a total of 28 years, and am excited to be embarking on a project that could have a real impact on the lives of Wandsworth residents. I’ve warned Rex Osborn and his Labour team that there are no easy answers, but I hope that our report will provide some new thinking and some genuine alternatives for local residents to consider.”

The Commission’s Terms of Reference are:

“To examine Wandsworth’s revenue and capital budget.

This should include:

  • forecasting trends in the balance sheet
  • examining the Council’s treatment by central government in the allocation of grant
  • reviewing the Council’s policy on, and use of, reserves
  • reviewing the policy on user charging
  • reviewing the relationship between the budget and the Housing Revenue Account
  • making recommendations for an alternative budget, structured according to clear principles and priorities making recommendations on improving the management of the budget.”

Michael Ward is a researcher and consultant on economic and social policy. From 2000 to 2004 he was Chief Executive of the London Development Agency, the London Mayor’s agency for business and jobs. In the 1970s he was a Wandsworth Councillor, and in the 1980s Deputy Leader of the GLC. He and his family live in Furzedown, Wandsworth.

Martin Pilgrim has spent most of his 39-year career working for bodies representing local government. His last job before retirement was Chief Executive of London Councils, the body which brings together London’s local authorities. Martin is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and has a Master’s degree in management from the University of Kent.

Stephanie Elsy has 30 years’ experience working at a senior level across the public, private and charity sectors. She is a former Leader of Southwark Council, and spent nine years as director of external affairs at Serco, which holds a large number of contracts with local authorities across the country.

Gareth Daniel has worked in London local government for more than three decades and served as Brent Council’s longest-serving Chief Executive from 1998–2012. A resident of Ealing in West London, he is a qualified social worker by background. He has also served as a councillor on the GLC and was chair of Ealing Council’s Planning and Economic Development Committee for four years. He now runs his own management consultancy undertaking change management and partnership development projects across the country.

George Kessler is Joint Deputy Chairman of Kesslers International Limited, a London based manufacturing business employing an ethnically diverse multi-skilled workforce of 300. Kesslers are Europe’s leading designers and manufacturers of permanent Point of Purchase Display. George is also a member of London First, Made in London, London Economic Panel and EEF’s Economic Policy Committee as well as being Chair of EEF’s London region
.

‘Cllr. Morritt should go – and Wandsworth Conservatives should come clean’

By Rex Osborn, Leader of the Labour Group

On October 31, Wandsworth councillor Robert Morritt, who represents East Putney 
Ward, was removed from the Wandsworth Conservative Group. For now he remains a 
councillor but the voters of East Putney did not elect an independent in 2010. 
The honourable course of action for Cllr. Morritt is to resign his Council seat.

To be removed from the Conservative Group, Cllr. Morritt must have done 
something wrong.  The voters of East Putney should be told what it was Cllr 
Morritt did.

Allegations have appeared in two national publications, and a website, 
concerning the conduct of Cllr. Morritt and his handling of funds during his 
time employed by Wandsworth Conservatives and his early days as a councillor. He 
has insisted he is innocent. The voters of Wandsworth deserve to be told which, 
if any, of these allegations are true.

Whatever it was that Cllr. Morritt did up to 2010, accusations first surfaced in 
public in July 2012. Since then the Wandsworth Conservative Leader has 
prevaricated and delayed taking any action.  No doubt the Conservatives fear 
this affair exposes their indecision and their lack of financial good sense but 
there are serious questions unanswered. 

Has Cllr. Morritt broken any law?

Who knew what Cllr. Morritt had done?

And when did they know it?

Cllr. Morritt should go - but Wandsworth Conservatives should come clean.

Graveney Ward #supersaturday!

Wandsworth Labour councillors and Sadiq Khan MP made it a super Saturday today by meeting Graveney residents at four Tooting school and church fetes.Sellincourt

After breakfast at Tooting Baptist Church’s Funday, Cllrs. Andy Gibbons and Rex Osborn joined Cllr. Billi Randall and Graveney Labour team member Alaina McDonald to meet with local residents.

Next stop was Franciscan school where there was excellent Ethiopian food and a big crowd of parents and children enjoying the sun.

MP Sadiq Khan joined the fun at St Boniface School, where a young pupil sang a brilliant version of Adele’s ‘Set Fire to the Rain’.

The team finally arrived at Sellincourt School to another busy fair, with the crowds being entertained by a singer from ‘The Voice’!

900 Potholes Unrepaired In Wandsworth Last Year

By Alexandra Rucki Wandsworth Guardian

One in eight potholes reported to the council were not repaired over the last 12 months. A Wandsworth Council report showed 6,561 holes were filled in, despite 7,498 being reported. A breakdown of each ward shows 63 pot holes remain untended in Graveney and 57 in Bedford.  pothole

Southfields was riddled with the most holes, with 702 recorded within the past year. Wandsworth Council defended their repair record, pointing to harsh winters having a detrimental effect on the condition of the 200 miles of roads across the borough.

The opposition Labour party argued the council is neglecting to fulfil basic duties.

Councillor Rex Osborn, the group’s leader, said: “The state of Wandsworth’s roads is appalling – and we now know that there are almost 1000 reported potholes which have not been filled.  Filling potholes is one of the council’s most basic statutory duties, a duty which it is failing to fulfil. Not only is the poor state of the roads causing damage to residents’ vehicles, but it’s also putting cyclists’ lives in danger. The council needs to buck up its act and get on top of this backlog urgently.”

To report a pothole online click here:

http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/forms/form/181/street_defects

or leave a comment on this page.

Read more here:

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/10333880.900_potholes_unrepaired_in_Wandsworth_last_year/

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.”

Five things we did in Tooting Graveney Ward in 2012…

Graveney Councillors Rex, Billi and Andy, Sadiq Khan MP and local supporters

Trident Centre, Bickersteth Road

After objections by local residents, concerns about the future of the businesses in The Trident Centre and the suitability of the site, the sponsors decided to withdraw from establishing a ‘free’ school.

New Primary School, Franciscan Road

We encouraged the establishment of a new primary school, linked to Graveney School, in the old school building on Franciscan Road. This is planned to open in September 2013.

Planning application  for the Professional Centre, Franciscan Road

We supported residents’ objections to the over-development of the playground area of what will become the new primary school on Franciscan Road. Developers plan to build a four storey building for elderly residents.

Crossing at St. Boniface Church, Mitcham Road

After a long campaign by the congregation of St. Boniface church, backed by ourselves and Sadiq Khan MP, the Council agreed to site a new pedestrian crossing by the Church. This was a great credit to the Late Fr. Bonvini, who was instrumental in the success of the petition.

Tooting Town Centre

We supported a plan by local police to curb street drinking by establishing a street drinking exclusion zone and helping people with alcohol problems through an outreach scheme. We are keen to see further development of the town centre and the market.

…… as well as attending street parties, school fetes, working with churches and community groups in Graveney and being your local voice in the Town Hall. And, of course, helping Graveney residents with individual concerns.

Cllr. Rex Osborn is a founder member of Tooting  History Group and conducts local historical walks. He is a Vice Chair of the Local Safer Neighbourhood panel.

Cllr. Billi Randall is Chair of Governors at Franciscan school. She is an active member of the Tooting Town Centre Partnership.

Cllr. Andy Gibbons is involved in organising local music events around Tooting and has close links with the Tamil Welfare Association of Wandsworth.

Let us know your priorities for 2013:  office@tootinglabour.org.uk or leave a comment below.