Consult our community before cutting down our trees

Chestnut Avenue, the Tooting Common path lined with 140 year-old horse chestnuts
Chestnut Avenue, the Tooting Common path lined with 140-year-old horse chestnuts

On February 12, Wandsworth council announced that it had successfully bid for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to pay for the restoration of heritage features on Tooting Common.

Included in the bid is a grant to replace the 77 trees which line Chestnut Avenue, the path which runs from Dr Johnson Avenue, past the swings and slides, to the café on the common. 67 of the trees are 140 year-old horse chestnuts.

According to Wandsworth Council, 20 of these trees are suffering from bleeding canker disease, two are dead and two are terminally diseased. Of the remaining trees, 57 are healthy. According to arboreal experts, trees can and do recover from bleeding canker disease.

Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting, said: “I am very concerned by Wandsworth Council’s plan to cut down 77 mature Chestnut trees on Tooting Common, 57 of which I understand are healthy. These trees are a local landmark and their removal would deprive a generation of the pleasures of a tree-lined avenue.

I am particularly concerned that, despite assurances that the Council would consult, no consultation has taken place. I am told that community groups were explicitly asked not to share the proposals with their members. Without consultation, this decision by the Council appears to be motivated more by the offer of external funding than by the need to replace the trees, which could be replaced over time from Council funds”.

On 15 February, Sadiq Khan launched a petition asking the Council to launch a full consultation prior to agreeing to remove any trees and wrote to the Council requesting further clarification of its proposals. He said: “as part of this consultation the Council should present residents with a range of options. These could include the replacement of the trees over time rather than in one go, as or when needed. It is vital that local residents hear the expert advice which supports each option, allowing them to make their own minds up.”

The Council’s current proposal is to begin removing the trees in November this year with work continuing until January 2017.


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:


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.”

Do we REALLY need another betting shop in Tooting?

Sadiq with Rex, Andy and Alaina – Graveney’s team

News that another betting shop may open in central Tooting is being met with anger by the local community. The former HS Samuel jewelers at 17 Mitcham Road has been targeted for planning and licensing permission to become a bookies.

Tooting residents have expressed their dismay about a new betting shop being located in the town centre to Graveney Councillors and MP Sadiq Khan.

Sadiq said: ‘Many of my constituents are concerned that there is already a heavy concentration of betting shops in Tooting, especially along the High Street, including Tooting High Street, Garratt Lane and Mitcham Road.  Local residents, who live and shop in the area do not want another betting shop to open in Tooting Broadway and I share their concerns. It is important that Wandsworth Council encourages diversity on our High Street and does not allow so many betting shops to operate in one town centre.

In a recent article in the Evening Standard Tooting was described as ‘rooting’ and ‘the next Shoreditch’, following the recent surge in popular bars, restaurants and art clubs on the High Street. The popular franchise, Eggfree Cake Box has just opened in Tooting and the Soho House group are soon to open a Chicken Shop on Tooting High Street. It is fantastic to see Tooting attracting exciting new businesses and being seen to the outside world as a desirable place to live, eat and shop, but I am very concerned that allowing any more betting shops to open on our High Street will put people off from shopping here and other retailers from setting up in business here.

Another concern is that a betting shop in such a prominent location, across from Tooting Broadway Station, could attract more on-street drinking in the area and therefore lead to more anti-social behaviour and disruption. There is an alleyway adjacent to the property where groups can gather, and there is a real worry that this could ultimately lead to the site becoming a source of noise and disturbance in the local area, and one that residents avoid.’

Graveney ward Councillor Andy Gibbons said ‘It’s important that the local community objects to this application as residents’ opinion should count when it comes to deciding what kind of area we want to live in. A lot of school children travel through Tooting Broadway to get home, and they shouldn’t be walking past a parade of gambling arcades, bookies and pawn shops. The government should be looking at ways to keep a mixed economy in town centres, not making it easier to turn retailers in to betting shops.’

You can find the application and object online here:

Sign Sadiq’s petition to save Tooting high street:

Labour’s policy on betting shops:

Evening Standard article on Tooting:

Sign Sadiq’s letter and save the Wheatsheaf!

The Wheatsheaf has been a famous Tooting landmark all of my life – and has gone from strength to strength in recent years, becoming one of the busiest and friendliest family pubs in the area. wheatsheaf

Since rumours emerged that supermarket giant Tesco was looking to take over the Wheatsheaf pub in Tooting Bec, the local community has come together to work with the pub to take action.

After raising local residents’ concerns directly with the Chief Executive of Tesco, I received assurances that Tesco will not be taking over the Tooting Bec pub, which is a huge achievement.

But the campaign doesn’t stop here.

The next task is to make sure no other retailer is allowed to turn The Wheatsheaf into a supermarket or shop. It simply does not make sense to close this much-loved and extremely popular local pub, to allow another supermarket to open. Supermarket giants shouldn’t be allowed to take over successful and well-loved businesses, simply by throwing more money at them.

Wandsworth Council can stop another supermarket taking over by using planning legislation now to ensure that only elected councillors can decide on any change to the use of the building.

Sign Sadiq’s letter here:


Great to celebrate fantastic new crossings in #Tooting with St Boniface students and @livingstreets

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: or leave a comment below.

Councillors Raise Battersea Banner At Anti-cuts March

Councillors Tony Belton and Simon Hogg


Cllr. Rex Osborn and Stephen Twigg MP


Graveney Councillors Object To ‘Overdevelopment’ at Franciscan Rd. Centre

Having listened carefully to the views of local residents and looking at the plans, Graveney Councillors  have sent in an objection to the planning application for the building of 45 housing units in the Franciscan Road Professional Centre playground.

We object on the following grounds:
• Over-development – the scale of the building is large and intrusive.
• Loss of playground space for the new primary school opening in the Professional Centre. This causes additional concerns as this is the space which would be used if the school had to be evacuated in case of emergency.
• The design includes windows and balconies which look onto the playground and into the play area of Toots nursery.
• The design will overshadow the play area and the lower storey classrooms of the new primary school as well as the play area of Toots nursery.
• Parking – the staff of the professional centre and the teachers will have to park on the surrounding streets, exacerbating existing parking problems.


New Planning Application for RACS Building

Artist’s impression of the new building

Consultation on the future of  the former RACS building  in Tooting begins this week.  You can view plans at 88 Cowick Rd Mon – Fri 9am – 4pm; or go to the  exhibition 4th & 11 Aug at 220 Upper Tooting Road. The plans are essentially the same as the previous proposals.

The proposal retains and restores the RACS building facade, and  includes four new shops, a hotel (83 rooms), community space, student housing (75 rooms),  62 car parking spaces and 60 cycle parking spaces.

Full details and a consultation response  form are available here: