Wandsworth Lib Dems

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We can do better than this!

Residents near Hebdon Road have expressed their frustration at the lack of action over the alley that runs parallel to Fishponds Road. Flytipping, anti-social behaviour, visits from the police, letters to the council, yet still it’s a mess.

But there are similar alleys in Wandsworth which once suffered the same issues, and solutions have been found. We need more active councillors to try to find similar solutions here in Tooting. Labour are taking local residents for granted.

Why should local residents have to suffer the distress of broken nights sleep and eyesore that flytipping presents? They need more effective advocates in the Council Chamber.

We think it is time for a change.

Labour sitting on the fence for safer streets

Everybody wants safer streets, and especially fewer accidents. But fewer appreciate that this can mean hard choices. Speed bumps are no deterrent and just cause noise. 20 mph zones are a good idea but the police don’t have the resources to enforce them: and in any case a collision at 20mph can do a lot of damage.

The only proven way to make residential streets safer is to force through motor traffic to use the main roads. The only through traffic should be pedestrians and cyclists. That means blocking some streets.

But a few noisy motorists object, stalking online forums like Streetlife. They think they are doing the world a favour by rat-running to bypass major roads. But the silent majority of residents understand that this means letting through a stream of professional drivers, some with big lorries, who have no time for the locals. It’s a shame that so many local politicians are giving this noisy minority such weight.

Some politicians are happy enough to sit back and wait for local residents to propose road schemes, like the proposed Fishponds Road trial, and let them go to local consultation. But they won’t lend these schemes their support for fear of offending the motorists. Labour’s local councillors, and even its local MP, are like this.

To their credit the Tories aren’t sitting on the fence on this. They believe we shouldn’t do anything until there’s nasty accident.

This apathy by the Conservatives and Labour alike means that council officers aren’t allowed to be pro-active to develop more rational traffic plans. It forces local residents to be their own traffic engineers if they want to petition for a local scheme. And these local schemes lack a clearer overall strategy.

As Lib Dems, we think that that Wandsworth Council should develop ideas itself, in consultation with local residents and other interested bodies, like Transport for London.

It’s shame this isn’t happening. Rat-running traffic deters pedestrians and cyclists, causes wear and tear to the roads, noise, pollution, and lots of little bumps and accidents, always with the threat of something much more nasty. And it doesn’t even help congestion on the main roads as rat-running vehicles create delays when they rejoin the main road, and when they turn right to enter residential streets. Proper action to make major roads and junctions better is neglected. And more people are forced to travel by car because the streets are unsafe for other users.

Local Lib Dems are calling for something better. It’s time for proper action on safer, cleaner, healthier streets.

Community Renewable Energy Wandsworth (CREW) has just been launched

As Lib Dem Ed Davey MP, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, unveiled Britain’s first Community Energy Strategy, local activists have already been at work. CREW’s  mission statement is: Renewable energy through community ownership. Its dream: – To re-create the Wandsworth power house. To build a network of locally owned renewable energy generation projects.

The work of Lib Dems in national government to encourage such local measures bodes well. To help lower the cost of energy a more diverse range of suppliers is key. More competition is essential to break the effective monopoly that the big energy providers have had as a result of Labour/Tory policies in previous governments. Projects such as CREW are part of the solution in creating greater energy resilience, building stronger communities, and a more diverse range of energy suppliers. In energy generation, big isn’t always better. Small local projects, using renewable sources, save on expensive transmission infrastructure.

We share the desire expressed by CREW to see their dream become a reality. Wandsworth Council have already granted the group some funding from the Eco Fund. With local groups working together, such as Transition Town Tooting, the Furzedown Low Carbon Zone and now CREW we believe there is real potential for community groups to develop projects along these lines.

For more information on this, and other local environmental projects, do check out projectdirt.com. If you would like to get involved, or promote a renewable project with your local Focus Team, do contact us.

Local residents support Fishponds trial scheme

Simon Sharich and Jon Irwin (left of pic) meet with Chris Apostolides and other Fishponds residents

Simon Sharich and Jon Irwin (left of pic) meet with Chris Apostolides and other Fishponds residents

Fishponds Road residents, pictured above, got in touch as a result of the consultation brought about by Jon Irwin’s petition from 3 years ago. Not only is the volume of motor traffic an issue for them and their neighbours, but also there are significant parking issues.

They’ve been round asking their neighbours for support, and found an overwhelming majority in favour. Chris Apostolides, Fishponds Road resident, shared with us some of the reasons why he thinks the trial should go ahead:

1. The volume of traffic using Fishponds Road as a cut-through has increased to unacceptable levels for a residential neighbourhood.

2. Although Private/Light Goods vehicles comprise the majority of traffic using Fishponds Road as a cut-through, there are also significant numbers of Heavy Goods Vehicles, Transit-sized commercial vehicles cement lorries and skip lorries also using these roads as a cut-through.

3. High levels of traffic noise and air pollution

4. Installing traffic reduction measures around Fishponds Road would encourage ‘non-essential’ vehicle users to consider other means of transport: walking, cycling and public transport. Reducing the number of vehicles on the road and cutting associated carbon emissions is a London-wide policy directive.

5. Danger to pedestrians: Fishponds Road has the volume of traffic associated with a main road but (apart from the speed humps) none of the pedestrian safety features that go with it. There are also six primary schools within a quarter-mile radius of Fishponds Road.

6. Fishponds Road is blighted by volume of traffic: trees are knocked over by vehicles parking on the pavement, parked vehicles are frequently damaged by passing traffic.

We completely agree with Chris and his neighbours, and can’t understand why the council has taken 3 years to get to the point of consulting on what are trial measures.

The local Tories seem to think that the trial would be an imposition on local residents who don’t want it, conveniently forgetting that it is only happening as a result of a petition signed by local residents, albeit 3 years ago. They claim they want the streets to be safer for all users – pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, yet the policies their party implements suggest otherwise. No pedestrian or cyclist counts have been done to get baseline data for the Fishponds trial, only counts of motor traffic. If you count what is important to you, then the Tories really don’t consider walking or cycling important.

The local Labour team, now faced with an opportunity to try something different and see if we can make our streets safer are sitting on the fence, not making a call either way.

It’s only the local Lib Dem team that are pushing for the trial. We think residents have nothing to lose with such a trial. If it works, then people are likely to overwhelmingly want to make the changes permanent. If it doesn’t work, then we will then know that this solution isn’t one which works on these streets.

Says Jon Irwin, “I think this scheme will make these streets pleasanter for local residents, and encourage people to walk and cycle – and without significant disruption to traffic on the major roads. But I am happy to put that view to the test. Why don’t the Conservatives have the courage of their convictions? Or Labour have any convictions at all?”

Local activist wins £11 million investment

Parisien street might be coming to Balham

Parisien street design may be coming to Balham High Road soon

Earlier this week, the Mayor announced a further £200 million of funding to improve 17 locations around London. One of them is Balham High Road, the project is titled ‘Balham Boulevard’. This is as a result of proposals Jon Irwin put forward several years ago (see his blogpost here) through his involvement with other local groups (Wandsworth Living Streets, Wandsworth Cycling Campaign) and activists.

The proposals put forward by Jon should result in the creation of ‘service roads’ where people can cycle the full length of the Boulevard with little or no interaction with drivers. Car parking shouldn’t be reduced, there would be a single lane in each direction for through traffic. Those drivers looking to stop in the shops or cafes, would need to pull off the main road onto the service road before parking. As the picture from a Parisien street gives an idea of how it may be.

This shows what can be done be done if local activists work to make their neighbourhood better. Local Labour and Conservative politicians just sit on the fence, and only jump on the bandwagon long after it is rolling. There is so much that can be done to make our area a nicer place to live – Liberal Democrats believe that the council should do more to work with local activists to turn these ideas into reality.

Jon has further ideas and plans for improving Tooting Town Centre. If you’d like to know more, or would like to share your views and help try to move things along get in touch with the team. You can reach us by emailing info@wandsworthlibdems.org.uk

School expansion doesn’t have to create traffic chaos

Jon Irwin, Focus Team Leader in Tooting, writes following this article in the Wandsworth Guardian regarding a new school in Earlsfield.

I read with interest your article regarding the proposals to build a new school on the site of the Atheldene Centre. The principal concerns raised by local residents are that the local streets risk being turned into rat runs.

The Lib Dems in Tooting have been gaining very strong support for their proposals to pilot schemes to stop rat runs, and return them to residential streets. In February, almost 2 years since our petition for the Fishponds Road was presented, a consultation on this scheme will be sent out to local people.

Parents of Smallwood school, and their neighbours showed their support for similar improvements to their streets with 459 people signing another petition presented to Council just before Christmas. For too long concerned residents have been fobbed off by our council as a result of Tory policies that haven’t been properly challenged by the Labour team.

We don’t think the council’s current stock response, “No-one has been killed there yet”, is good enough. Local people overwhelmingly agree with us.

Jon Irwin
Focus Team Leader
Tooting Lib Dems

Dirty streets – action needed

Fly tipping is disfiguring our streets. That’s what Tooting residents are telling us, and we agree. We have talked to the Council about it, but it is one of those issues where it helps if the whole community acts together. Here’s how you can help.

The council say that all dumped rubbish should be cleared within a week. Please let us know about any rubbish that is not cleared away.

If you see somebody dumping rubbish then you should report it immediately to the council, noting as much of the following as you can:

Date – Time – Location
What was dumped
Vehicle type
Licence Plate
Description of the people

With details collected email: wasteservices@wandsworth.gov.uk
Or call one of these Council numbers 020 8871 8249 – 020 8871 8546 – 020 8871 6396.

If you don’t get a response, do let us know, we are here to help.

Fly tipping and the law:
The Council will fine or prosecute people dumping rubbish in the street. The maximum penalty is £50,000 fine and/or 12 months in prison. Vehicles used for fly-tipping can be seized and destroyed, and the perpetrators may be required to do community service.


For ease of sharing the info via Facebook etc we’ve made this:

Fly tipping - how you can help

Progress for Lib Dems safer streets campaign

After years of inaction by Wandsworth Council moves are finally underway to reduce traffic and improve safety on Tooting’s roads thanks to the work of the local Liberal Democrats.

Residents in Fishponds Road / Broadwater Road have often complained about motorists using their streets as a ‘rat run’ to avoid traffic on Tooting High Street, creating noise and significant danger for pedestrians and cyclists. Yet despite 10 years and three public consultations on the problem there has still been no tangible change.

That was until local Lib Dems took a different approach. Campaigner Jon Irwin secured the support of 243 local residents for a trial scheme to solve the problem. Unlike past schemes, the Lib Dem proposals are resident led and, as a trial programme, have a lower cost and lower risk than previously proposed solutions. The petition was presented to the Council in July 2011 and on November 19th 2013 the Council Committee finally agreed that the trial should be put to a wider public consultation.

However, in order for there to be further action the Council requires that 40% of local residents respond to the consultation. You’ve already told us on the doorstep that we should have safer streets and so we need your help! If you agree we should try this new approach please respond positively to the consultation.

Remember: even with such strong local support, our local Councillors still allowed this issue to take 18 months to go through the system – we can’t rely on our Labour Councillors to improve Tooting so it’s up to residents to take charge!

Taking pride in our area…

Following on from our last issue of Focus, local campaigners Jon Irwin & Giles Derrington have been alerted to a number of cases of fly-tipping around the Tooting Grove area.

Local Liberal Democrats are encouraging the council to step up their efforts to deal with fly-tipping and to improve kerbside refuse collections to help reduce problems with urban foxes.

Local campaigner Giles Derrington said: “Like everyone who lives here, we love Tooting and we want to see it looking clean and tidy. The Council needs to rethink some of their refuse and fly-tipping policies to stop some of the problems we have seen over the last few weeks.”

Working towards a safer community for all…

Local Liberal Democrats have been concerned to hear complaints from local residents about anti-social behaviour on some of Tooting’s parks, such as Tooting Gardens. Concerns have particularly focused on late evenings.

Some residents have reported anti-social or criminal behaviour on some of these areas late at night, often with debris being left behind making the play areas unsafe for families, as well as making the area very unattractive for people to live in.

Liberal Democrats Jon Irwin & Giles Derrington have reported these concerns to the police and the council community safety teams, and encourage residents to do the same.

Local resident and campaigner Giles Derrington said, “Unfortunatelythere are some people who don’t want to use the parks responsibly and they spoil it for everyone else. We’ll be keeping an eye out to make sure we do what we can to keep the parks safe for Tooting families.”

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