‘One O’Clock’ Kids’ Play Clubs Saved!

For the last six months Wandsworth’s Labour Councillors and Sadiq Khan MP have been working hard with parents and carers to fight the council’s plans for the  closure of One O’clock play clubs.

One O'clock Clubs Demo

Those of you who have ever been along to a One O’Clock Club will know what a vital resource they are in our community – providing the much-needed opportunity to talk with other parents in an environment where children can play safely. That’s why local parents were outraged when the council first announced their plans to close the clubs in January.

Parents have campaigned, signed petitions and marched through the streets of Wandsworth in opposition to the cuts. The good news is that at a town hall meeting this week the Tories backed down:  Stay and Play has been saved at all centres except Battersea Park, nursery workers at Windmill, Bolingbroke, and Coronation Gardens jobs have been saved and charges will be kept affordable. But despite support from independents on the committee, Labour’s amendment to cap charges at £1 was defeated by the Tories.

We have come such a long way. When the plans were first announced the council wanted to close the afternoon clubs completely: but now, thanks to a fantastic campaign, families will be able to use the clubs in the afternoon and access the outdoor space for free in the late afternoons and at weekends.

Labour Education Speaker Cllr. Sheila Boswell said: ‘All in all an innovative campaign with a powerful alliance between ‘Nappy Valley’ parents, Battersea and Wandsworth  trade unions, Labour Councillors and Tooting’s Labour MP.  There is a lot to be proud of.’

Links:

Wandsworth Guardian

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/10500733.Nappy_Valley_mums_disappointed_at_children_s_services_charges/

Nappy Valley Parents

http://www.nappyvalleynet.com/mums/search.php?keywords=One+O%27clock&sid=02a5ce38215c87d614468caff8e61a24

Wandsworth Unions

http://www.bwtuc.org.uk/default.aspx

LABOUR COUNCILLOR CALLS TO REINSTATE FREE SWIMMING

Labour councillors in Wandsworth are calling on the Council to permanently reinstate free swimming in the borough. Image

Almost 5,000 youngsters took advantage of the free swim offer during the half term break, after Wandsworth Council agreed to temporarily reintroduce free swims following a request from Labour’s children’s services spokesperson Cllr Sheila Boswell.

The borough’s Labour councillors are now calling on the Council to invest a small sum in permanently reinstating free swimming for under 16s.

 

 

 

 

 

Read more here: http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/9778974.Labour_councillor_calls_on_free_swimming_to_be_permanently_reinstated/?ref=eb

A Jubilee treat: Free swimming for all Wandsworth’s children

As a result of the hard work of Labour councillors in Wandsworth all children in the borough will receive free swimming during the summer half term in celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee.

The scheme runs from Saturday, June 2 to Sunday, June 10 at all leisure centres in Wandsworth.

Cllr Boswell, pictured above celebrating with local children, said:

“On the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, it was proposed to give ‘a treat’ to the poor children of Battersea in the form of a Jubilee meal. I thought it would be great to replicate this in a modern day universal gift to mark the occasion of this Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and so proposed the idea of free swimming during half term week for all Wandsworth children under 16”

“Since free swimming was abolished by the Tory-led government, numbers of children swimming have dropped by a third. Local contractors DC Leisure, who are responsible for Wandsworth’s swimming pools have, as a consequence, seen a corresponding fall in income from adults accompanying children, which has hit their bottom line. As such, they have already taken the decision to raise eligibility for free swimming to eight years old.”

The £8,000 cost of the initiative will be met from the leftover funds from the Labour government’s free swimming initiative which ended in July 2010.

Labour members have been talking to parents about the scheme at Falconbrook, Sacred Heart, Chesterton and Battersea Park Schools this week – and there has been a really enthusiatic response.

Rescue Plan For Battersea Adventure Playground

Wandsworth’s Labour councillors are pleased to support the bid by London Play to save Battersea Park Adventure Playground.

London Play are a charity organisation, now proposing a welcome plan to keep the threatened playground in Battersea Park open, as a fully-staffed adventure playground.

London Play’s plan would see the Council cease its plans to disassemble the adventure playground and instead reallocate the funds for the planned refurbishment to fund an interim period, keeping the playground open with current staff.

This would pave the way for London Play to create a new model for playgrounds in Battersea Park, using the voluntary group London Play Association to run the facilities in the long term.

This model had been has already been pursued successfully in Tower Hamlets with cooperation with the Labour council.

In response to a Council question Kathy Tracey, Cabinet member for Education said: “London Play have suggested that they will develop firm proposals and officers are now waiting for these to be provided, so that they can be given proper consideration by myself and officers.  If a proposal is made by London Play or by any other suitable organisation that maintains a staffing presence on site at no cost to the council, it will of course be considered carefully.’

Cllr Sheila Boswell said:  “Whilst the high profile and hard fought campaign by residents and the local community to stop the council charging children to play in Battersea Park Adventure Playground was successful, the compromise offered by the council to keep access free of charge but remove the imaginative adventure play equipment and get rid of the experienced on site play workers was still lacking.  Therefore I am delighted it is now being challenged by groups of concerned local parents and users who believe that all children should have the right to adventurous play especially those living in an inner city environment.

“The offer from London Play Association – a well established organisation – to takeover the running of the playground and crucially keep the on site play workers and the adventure play equipment so enjoyed by local children is to be welcomed.

“I hope the Council will give it it’s full support and provide the necessary transition funding to make it happen. If successful, perhaps a similar model could be used for adventure play parks in York Gardens and at Kimber Road in Southfields, which are also facing the loss of vital on site play workers and adventurous play equipment.”

Wandsworth Tories Join With Labour To Challenge Gove On Childcare Funding Gap

Sheila Boswell and Sadiq Khan MP

After Labour raised concerns about the Government’s unfunded promise to increase dramatically the number of childcare places for two-year olds, Wandsworth Tories have agreed to a cross-party lobby to get the funding to pay for the plan.

Labour’s new education speaker, Sheila Boswell, gave this speech to Council on Wednesday night:

‘Big promises to increase free childcare places for disadvantaged two-year olds make great headlines. But with no guaranteed funding attached, this is yet another example of fine words from this Government on family policies – with NO clarity on how, when, and if funding will actually be provided to deliver it.

The Government’s own report states: “We propose to work with local authorities, to consider the approach to distribution of the Early Intervention Grant in time to feed into decisions about allocations for September 2013” That’s just 15 months away. Yet this does not appear to have happened.

The so-called ‘uplift grant’ of £495,000 falls far short of the estimated extra cost of £2.6million and you admit that: “ there is currently no confirmed additional Government funding approved.”
In Wandsworth where currently there are 102 free full or part-time childcare places for disadvantaged 2 year olds, with a further 86 planned. Increasing provision again by a further 700 places by 2014 will be a big challenge.
At the same time Cameron announces this unfunded plan the Tory-led Coalition is rushing to undo tried and tested Labour initiatives like SureStart, which if it had been expanded instead of being cut, could have provided the extra childcare places needed.
Despite a commitment in the coalition agreement to protect funding for Sure Start, its budget has been merged into the new local authority Early Intervention Grant, which must, in addition, fund mental health in schools, youth crime prevention schemes and teenage age pregnancy programmes.
This Government risks setting service against service, while it absolves itself of all responsibility and local councils are left to pick up the pieces with services fighting between themselves for funding. The Tories are applying a dog-eat-dog ,market approach – where there will always be losers – to such essential services as state-funded childcare for the poorest. This benefits no one.
It doesn’t make economic sense either: nationally over 30,000 mothers have given up work in the past year because they cannot find affordable childcare – that just ends up costing the taxpayer more.
The time of easy headlines for this Government is over – the opportunity to turn around disadvantaged toddlers’ lives, who through no fault of their own are born into problem families, cannot be compromised by failure to ask difficult questions and demand answers.
The Government’s own statement at the Early Intervention Grant launch said : “We want local authorities to be more transparent about what they are spending on children’s services so they can be held to account locally.” I suggest you start by holding the Government itself to account on its promise to toddlers, that without added funding they won’t be able to keep.

POOR TORY MANAGEMENT LEAVES WASTE UNCOLLECTED ACROSS WANDSWORTH

Cllrs. Leonie Cooper and Sheila Boswell

Labour councillors are joining angry residents and business owners in Wandsworth in calling for answers regarding Wandsworth Council’s poor management of refuse collection and street cleaning.

Many streets across the borough were left strewn with rubbish and uncollected refuse sacks this week, as the Council failed to inform residents of changes to their collections.

This unforeseen change occurred because the Council was forced to hand over the contract for waste collection to a new company, following the collapse of the second provider in a row.

This has led not only to a change in the day of collection, but also means the schedule for street cleaning now no longer ties in with that of waste collection – but none of this has been adequately conveyed to Wandsworth residents.

Labour strongly believes this situation has arisen due to Wandsworth Council’s poor management and financial incompetence, and that this disruption to service could have been avoided entirely.

Cllr Leonie Cooper said,

“Given the Conservative administration’s poor management, it is no surprise that residents have commented on the deterioration in the service received, as corners have seemingly been cut. This approach does not save money in the long run, as now we have seen the second company in a row go into administration. This is leaving Wandsworth residents at a great disadvantage, as uncollected waste, dirty streets and dog fouling are left to build up across the borough.”

Read more here:

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/9634890.New_refuse_system_causes_rubbish_chaos/

 

Ken’s Fare Deal Comes To Tooting

Ken Livingstone and GLA Candidate Leonie Cooper in Tooting

 

Ken at Tooting Broadway

Labour councillor secures a Jubilee treat for all Wandsworth children

Wandsworth Labour are delighted to see that the Council has taken seriously Cllr Sheila Boswell’s proposal to treat the children of Wandsworth to free swimming during the summer half term in celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee.

Since free swimming was abolished by the Tory-led government, numbers of children swimming have dropped by a third. Local contractors DC Leisure, who are responsible for Wandsworth’s swimming pools have, as a consequence, seen a corresponding fall in income from adults accompanying children, which has hit their bottom line. As such, they have already taken the decision to raise eligibility for free swimming to 8 years old.

We are pleased that DC Leisure see the benefit of Cllr Boswell’s proposal.

Cllr Sheila Boswell, whose initiative inspired this treat, said,

“On the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, it was proposed to give ‘a treat’ to the poor children of Battersea in the form of a Jubilee meal. I thought it would be great to replicate this in a modern day universal gift to mark the occasion of this Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and so proposed the idea of free swimming during half term week for all Wandsworth children under 16”

The £8000 cost of the initiative will be met from the leftover funds from the Labour government’s free swimming initiative which ended in July 2010.