Local news below is on your new local Labour team, Chestnut Avenue, Ravenstone School planning application, Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees new local event, changes to local policing and Northcote Library.
The start of September was all about new terms for me – my youngest son is now at secondary school and goes off on the train on all his own (yikes), my oldest is back at Bristol University and the middle two are going to open days and planning where to go for sixth form and college.
New local Labour team
Local elections are next May and the Labour candidates for Bedford ward have recently been selected by local Labour party members – your team is Cllr Fleur Anderson, Hector Wakefield and Clare Fraser we all live locally in Bedford ward and want to listen to local people and keeping working to make our area an even better place to live for everyone. We’re all on twitter: @CllrFleur @clare_f and @hectorwakefield
Chestnut Avenue trees
Plans to cut down 51 trees on Chestnut Avenue are going ahead, despite appeals for a rethink from Rosena Allin-Khan MP and London Mayor (and local resident) Sadiq Khan and my letter to the council (see previous blog). There is a notice on the common which means that the Avenue can be closed for the works to be carried out at any time in the next six months. I have been told that this will take about 2 weeks. Local people, community and councillors were told that this is necessary due to concerns about the trees’s disease and age and risk of falling down. I agreed that this had to be taken seriously. However since then other tree experts have said that the trees could be saved for the next 10 years at least, some need to be felled but not all. No work has been done on all the other Chestnut trees on the common – suggesting that health and safety wasn’t such an issue as had been portrayed.
For latest information contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org, and see the local campaign on Twitter: @SaveChestnutAvenue
Parents and staff at Ravenstone School are objecting to a planning application for houses to be built very close to the playground – overlooking the playground with large glass windows, and overshadowing the playground.
If you would like to add any comments to the planning application (it doesn’t need to be a long comment), click on here. Scroll down to the bottom to see the planning documents, and click on ‘comment on application’ to register your objection.
Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees
The annual public meeting is on October 9th at 7pm at Tooting United Reformed church, Rookstone Rd (near Tooting Broadway tube). There will be inspiring speakers and making plans for the year ahead. Wandsworth Council has still only welcomed one Syrian family to the borough. For more information and to book your free ticket click here.
Policing changes underway
There is a consultation on changes to local policing open until October 6th: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/mayors-office-policing-and-crime-mopac/mopac-consultations/share-your-views-accessing-met
These changes are the result of the £600 million cuts already made and now further Tory cuts of £400 million by 2021. To do this, but maintain response service for the public, they will be keeping local police officer numbers and cutting amounts spent on senior officers and buildings. Lavender Hill police station will be closed but not until a new 24 hr ‘customer service’ building will be opened nearby – Lavender Hill won’t be closed until the new building is opened. Wandsworth police station will be closed. Faced with this situation, the Metropolitan Police and Mayor are choosing the right priorities – making sure our 999 calls are answered and keeping local neighbourhood policing to keep us safe.
I attended the recent consultation on these changes with Borough Police. the Borough Commander Peter Laverick said that in all his 29 years in the police service, he has never seen such extensive changes as there are now. The Met has already been required to make savings of £600 million, and now must make £400 million further savings by 2021, whilst maintaining the same level of service.
At the consultation I welcomed the new resourcing for local policing and keeping police numbers rather than buildings. I also raised the concerns of local members of the Safer Neighbourhood ward group and Neighbourhood Watch representatives, that the 101 system isn’t working. currently people are finding that their calls aren’t answered, that they are left hanging on for too long, or that calls aren’t followed up. This undermines the good work of our local police officers and stops crimes being reported and stopped. I was informed that there was a move of staff from the 101 calls to 999 as a result in an increased in calls and that new staff for the 101 service will be starting very soon. I will continue to monitor this – do let me know if your calls aren’t being answered.
The Borough Commander told the public meeting that in Wandsworth 25,000 crimes per year are recorded, with 43,000 ‘calls to service’ and 14,000 of these are immediate response calls. They aim to maintain the level of local police officers (just over 500 in Wandsworth) as well as the response to the public.
A proposed way to do this is to save costs on buildings rather than police officers, and to reduce the numbers of senior officers and share resources across the boroughs through joining up boroughs into districts.
Footfall surveys for the two police stations which are open to the public showed low useage for crime reporting – people report crimes by phone rather than in person. 0.2 crimes per day in Wandsworth and 5 crimes per day in Lavender Hill.
Lavender Hill police station is on a long lease from the courts service which ends in 2029 and has running costs of £120,000 per year. An early end to the lease will be negotiated and they won’t close this building until a new (cheaper) police station in the same area, probably further up Lavender Hill, is opened. They are scoping out buildings but don’t know where it will be exactly. It will be still be the only police station open to the public 24 hrs a day.
Wandsworth police station is currently open on week days and will close. Tooting police station has already been closed to the public for some time, and will be sold. Earlsfield station will be kept as a police operations base, and the building where the cells are will be kept people will still be detained in Wandsworth when arrested.
Instead, local hubs will be opened – a safe room for police officers to start and finish their shifts from, speak to people confidentially if needed and keep equipment. The Mayor’s office said that these will all be a 20 minute walk from the ward, but ward teams will share them. They don’t have a plan for where they will be, so it was hard to tell if these really will be a 20 min walk and is something I would like to know more about.
Dedicated ward officers (DWOs): at a ward level the change is to move to having 2 dedicated ward officers, who can’t be ‘abstracted’ for Met-wide operations (eg football matches) but will be more embedded in the community. In Bedford we already have this as these plans have been rolling out for several months. The Tooting sergeant said that he will be writing in a commitment to be in the ward for a longer time into the new contracts for DWOs of 12 months.
In Wandsworth this means two DWOs and a PCSO in each ward, with an extra officer in some wards (like Queenstown) as well. Before the cuts there were three officers in each ward, but this is a commitment to keeping current levels in the long-term. I asked about overall police numbers as well – ie those in the special units, response teams etc, and the Borough Commander said that all of these numbers would be maintained.
Improved technology will enable these officers to be on the streets more and back at base less. They will have iPhone and iPads and be able to do all their recording of crimes when out and about. This is already in progress and starting to be rolled out, with an aim to have this fully operational by next Spring.
Plans for Wandsworth Council to replace the current Northcote Library with a new, modern library on the site of a nearby community hall sounds great until you find out more about the actual plans. The new library and community space will be very welcome, but not at any cost. The current plan was made without consultation with the community groups and nursery that use Chatham Hall which will be demolished for this scheme.
Provision of a new library should have resulted in a clear majority of people in favour. But it didn’t – and this shows the considerable local objections to the plan. THIS plan for a new library is not welcome. Cllr Cook should listen to these local objections and look at the plan again.
The plan should have included them so that there will be somewhere for the nursery to go during the 18 months of building work, and so that the community space will be as good as (if not better) than the current space. Alphabet nursery is a fabulous nursery, loved by local parents and a local business paying rent to the council for 27 years and yet has not been valued by the council.
Years after first thinking of the plan, there still is no new space for Alphabet nursery agreed during the building works. Conversations with a local church have started but should have been done at the beginning and not the end of this process as it has left the staff and parents very uncertain and didn’t need to be like this if the council had worked with community groups instead of leaving them out.
Chatham Hall is a wonderful, light and airy, fantastic big space. The new community space does not have the kitchen, safe outside space and integrated toilets that current users need. Community groups would not agree that the council has done ‘all it can’ to find alternative accommodation. Instead, it has felt as though this has been railroaded through without care for the community’s needs.
The papers for this plan were submitted to the councillors on the committee (which I am on) without any plans for the building and no costings at all. This is a council development which will provide 16 much needed new flats in the areas, and that there are over 1000 families living in temporary accommodation. So this would be a rare opportunity for the council to build social housing, but this proposal by the Labour councillors was rejected by the Conservative councillors.
It is a great shame that instead of being a new building to celebrate by local people in and around Northcote, the plans for the new library are being seen so negatively. The council can fix this with proper support for community groups, support for relocation for Alphabet nursery, a rethink on the new community space and inclusion of social housing in the scheme.