Katharine Birbalsingh criticised over ‘wasteful’ free school project

By Daniel Boffey, The Observer

Trident Centre: 'preferred' free school site

Saturday 21 January 2012

Katharine Birbalsingh, the teacher described as a Tory darling for her attacks on state education standards, is at the centre of a dispute over her plans to open a free secondary school with a “private ethos” in an area of south London desperately in need of primary schools.

Birbalsingh has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money by parents and teachers in Tooting, Wandsworth, the proposed site of the Michaela community school, where Mandarin and Latin will be on the curriculum.

The new secondary school will take money away from the local authority if it attracts pupils from schools under the latter’s control. And critics say because the department for education has earmarked half of the £1.2bn it has allocated to school building on free schools, it does not have enough money to tackle the national crisis in primary schools.

Read the full story here:


Tooting Wins Funding For Town Centre

Tooting has won a bid for £194,155 of funding to bring new life to the town centre. Cllr. Rex Osborn said: ‘For a long time Tooting’s Labour councillors have been pressing for a development programme for Tooting, so it’s excellent news to hear that this bid has come through. We know Tooting has a lot to offer and there is a growing  business and arts community which will bring a buzz to the town centre.’

The funding will support these exciting initiatives: 

Development of the creative offer in Tooting Market – the market owners will support artistic social enterprise company the Brick Box to develop and promote an exciting programme of daytime and evening activities which will benefit a wide range of potential audiences and visitors. Total cost of this project is £125,100.

Capacity building for the Tooting Business Network – temporary administrative support will develop the Network on a more formal footing, including data collection and a membership scheme, and will also enable at least three networking/information events to be delivered. The total cost of this project is £9,810.

Tooting town centre website development – the http://www.tootinglife.com website will be developed to enable up to 50 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic businesses to have their own webpage and actively contribute content to the site. The total cost of this project is £15,000.

 Tooting Arts Network gallery space – the newly established Tooting Arts Network, bringing together established arts and crafts groups, will be supported in opening a temporary town centre gallery space which will also act as a platform for ‘Handmade in Tooting’ (goods made by hand in the Tooting area). The total cost of this project is £30,000.

 Tooting, Furzedown and Balham Artists Trail – more effective publicity for this initiative which brings together 28 local artists; the highest concentration of artists working from home in the Borough. The total cost of this project is £1,200.

 Tooting Arts Club’s third production – this theatre company which seeks to mount productions in interesting town centre paces will be supported in identifying and animating a ‘hidden space’ in the town centre. The total cost of this project is £6,500.

Wandsworth Museum mini-tour – bringing some fascinating Tooting related items to Tooting for a short exhibition, enabling local young people to connect with Tooting’s history and heritage. This is likely to utilise the gallery space. The total cost of this project is £3,000.

Balham and Tooting Community Association (BATCA) – Family Fun Day – a grant to support development of a bigger and better 2012 Family Fun Day including support for closure of Broadwater Road (achieved without incident in 2011) and development of the Wellbeing Project.

Banners and Festive Lights – renewal of the six ‘Welcome to Tooting’ banners at Tooting Broadway, plus identifying other suitable town centre locations for more banners. Any surplus funds to be allocated to Tooting Business Network replacement of those festive lights that have deteriorated and are now below standard. The total cost of this project is £15,000.

Wandsworth Public Disorder Inquiry – Meeting Dates

Wandsworth Council  is holding three public meetings to discuss the riots and their consequences. The first meeting is tonight.

September 12 – Battersea Arts Centre, 6.30pm – 8.30pm.

September 13 – Samaj Hall, 26b Tooting High Street, 6.30pm – 8.30pm.

September 19 – Wandsworth Civic Suite. 7pm – 9pm.

Tooting Turns Out For Ken

It was standing room only at a packed public meeting with Ken Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for the 2012 London Mayoral election. After a day touring Wandsworth, from Putney High Street to Clapham Junction and Battersea, Ken took questions and ideas from an audience of hundreds at Holy Trinity Church in Tooting.

Amongst the subjects discussed were the economy, transport, health, crime, policing and education. Sadiq Khan MP and Leonie Cooper Labour’s GLA Candidate for Wandsworth and Merton also spoke at the meeting, which closed with a resounding ‘no’ to Boris Johnson’s support for tax cuts for the richest 2% of Londoners.

Your Chance To Tell Ken – This Thursday

Tooting Labour Party is hosting a public meeting with Ken Livingstone, our candidate for the London Mayoral Election on Thursday, 8th September at 7pm at Holy Trinity Church Hall (Trinity Road, corner of Trinity Cres). Leonie Cooper, our GLA candidate will also be at the meeting.

Labour Councillors and MP Condemn Tooting Shop Attacks

Reposted from Wandsworth Guardian http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/9184042.Tooting_stores_targeted_in_copycat_riots/ 

Two shops in Tooting had their front windows smashed-in at the weekend as rioting spread across the capital.

Vandals shattered the front windows of Ladbrokes, in Franciscan Road, Tooting, and nearby CEX, in Mitcham Road.

Wandsworth police today remained tight-lipped about the incidents, which are believed to have taken place last night in the wake of Saturday night’s riot and looting in Tottenham.

After repeated requests for information, a spokeswoman eventually said all queries would be handled by the central London Metropolitan Police Service team, who has still not responded to request for information about incidents and what is being done to protect local businesses and residents.

A shopworker in Londis, close to the Ladbroke shop, said he thought the damage was done last night, as the windows were broken when he arrived at work at 6.30am.

Rashad Sultan of Sultan and Co Accountants said: “By the time we opened, it was all boarded up, so we did not know what happened.

“They probably just walked past and said let’s break-in as it had no shutters.

“We have got shutters so nothing happened to us. At the moment it is ok but we do not know what will happen tonight.”

A spokesman for Ladbrokes said three men forced their way into the Franciscan Road branch at 4.09am this morning, were inside for “about a minute” but did not take anything.

Tooting’s MP Sadiq Khan said: “These incidents are extremely worrying. “I am in regular contact with the local police who have reassured me they are doing all that they can to keep local residents and businesses safe.

“If anybody has any information about the incidents they should get in touch with the police.”

Ward councillor James Daley said the situation was extremely concerning, adding he and his council colleagues would be working with police where possible to ensure public safety is maintained.

Labour group leader Councillor Rex Osborn branded any looting “unacceptable” and praised police in the borough for “containing the problem”.

David Cameron aide helped derail Bombardier’s Thameslink deal – mirror.co.uk

Labour has asked for the tendering process for new Thameslink trains to be reviewed after the disastrous decision to award the contract to a German firm rather than support British company Bombardier. Thameslink serves Tooting and Streatham stations, both of which are used by Tooting residents. In a new development the Daily Mirror reports:

‘One of David Cameron’s top advisers was yesterday accused of helping Bombardier’s rival win the Thameslink rail contract. Michael Queen is among the Prime Minister’s cosy inner circle of economic experts.But he is also chief of Europe’s biggest buyout firm 3i group, which was involved in German firm Siemens securing the £1.4billion deal to build carriages for the Brighton to Bedford line. 

The decision was a devastating blow to Bombardier and triggered the loss of 1,400 jobs – with thousands more at risk. It also emerged yesterday the chairman of 3i is Sir Adrian Montague, once dubbed the “Government’s favourite fixer”, who is close to the Coalition, too. The revelations prompted MPs, union leaders and workers to demand an independent review of the whole Thameslink tendering process.’

Read the whole story here:

David Cameron aide helped derail Bombardier’s Thameslink deal – mirror.co.uk

Update 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.’

Read more here:


and here…