Sunday, 6 July 2014

Labour tried to silence me!

This week has been a busy one. I hope that what took place on Tuesday evening won't prevent progress on what I believe to be a widely shared aspiration to create safer streets.

The local Labour party (their representatives on the committee) voted to silence me, and by extension the hundreds of people who have supported my petitions. They singled me out, as they didn't choose to try to stop the other deputations who wanted to speak.

You can view the decisions made by the committee here.

I went along to speak on papers 14-371 and 14-379. The local elections have come and gone. However, it seems clear from the actions of the Labour team, that I will really need more help from local people to get further progress on our streets.

The Fishponds scheme was discussed, and whilst I fully accept that local people responded negatively to the consultation (not too surprising given the wording of it), the recommendations from the council is to do nothing. Neither Labour, nor the Conservatives (as far as I'm aware) have been prepared to put forward any proposals to try to fix what is a widely acknowledged problem with traffic in the local area.

I live in hope that the wide spread goal of creating safer streets will mean that people of differing political persuasions can work together. However, if the Labour team are not prepared to listen to differing points of view, it is difficult to see exactly how positive consensual progress can be made.

Sticking our heads in the sand and hoping that long standing problems will go away doesn't work. It isn't easy to put solutions in place, but the longer we leave them, the greater the cost to our community.

If you would like to join me and help campaign do get in touch.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Frustration, dismay, but more motivated than ever

Yesterday saw the publication of paper 14-371 which refers to the outcome of the consultation for the proposed trial on the Fishponds road area. Download the paper here

The headlines are:
399 responses were received (17% of households canvassed) with 29% supporting (115) and 64% opposed (257)
Officers recommend that no further action be taken.

Looking into the details what can we learn?

Executive asked for a 40% minimum response rate to deem the consultation effective.
Only Tooting and Furzedown wards had a turnout in the recent local elections which were the same day as the European elections of over 40%. Does this mean that the local elections weren't effective in most of the borough? Is it realistic for the executive to set a target response rate for a consultation higher than the average turnout for local elections? See ward by ward turnout here

Concerns from local residents, 91 people thought that they would increase congestion and delays, 38 people thought that there must be a better way, 9 people suggested a one-way system for Broadwater road, and 6 flagged a 20mph limit.
If we total these comments up as people who opposed the scheme, but agree that there is a problem, we have 144 people. If we can view those people as wanting the problem fixed the numbers would look like this: 259 wanting problem fixed - 113 wanting nothing to be done.

If the committee chooses to take no action, then this doesn't bode well for progress in Wandsworth for the next four years. This consultation was the fourth in 12 years as a result of other groups, and me petitioning calling on our council to act. Our council has monitored traffic levels in the area and found them to be over and above levels which are fit for residential streets.

I'm quite happy for a different approach to be advocated by the council to fix what is a recognised problem.

The important questions in terms of putting in place solutions are:

Who do we ask to come up with solutions?
If the local community doesn't like the look of the solutions, (because they don't believe they will work, even if they are evidence-based), do we just shrug our shoulders and do nothing?

The other week I wrote a fairy tale about this - The Prince and his toothache - well worth a gander if you haven't looked at it already.

I'm due be a father in September. I want my child to be able to grow up in a community where they are able to safely cycle to school. Where as a family we don't need to share horror stories about how someone's 'need' to not 'wait' behind me or my wife on our bikes has resulted in them almost killing us.

Other parts of London have successfully made huge changes to their street environment to the wider benefit of all members of their local communities. I'm more determined than ever to ensure that our community can benefit too, but I really will need your help.

Do get in touch if you live locally, and share my desire to see a better neighbourhood.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Bikehangars coming to Wandsworth for Xmas!

Soon to be up on Wandsworth's Council website (link to follow). The Bikehangars which are becoming more and more common in neighbouring Lambeth are due to make a start on Wandsworth's streets hopefully before Christmas!

An initial 10 will be placed around the borough in locations where there is greatest demand. Over 200 people have already registered their interest via, and their details have been passed to the council for consideration.

If you really, really would like to have one on your street then ask any of your cycling neighbours to register via the link above, but also to email with your address, and a brief explanation why this would be so useful.

Would also do no harm to copy in your newly elected/re-elected councillors, so that they are aware of this need/demand from their residents. Not sure who your councillors are, then follow this link and you can get their email addresses.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Prince and his toothache

Having read the last edition of the Transition Free Press, it reminded me of the importance of story telling in the context of Transitioning, and how we discuss change.

With this in mind, and my recent safer streets campaigns in Tooting the following story came to mind.

As with many fairy tales, it starts in a familiar fashion:

Once upon a time in a magical kingdom lived a prince who reigned over all he saw. He was blessed with a kingdom of abundant food, the people lived in peace, and life was full of happiness for his subjects.

However, the prince had one weakness, he had a very sweet tooth. Living in this land of plenty and such a wonderful choice of food always on offer, including pastries, cakes, tarts and sweet drinks.

Before long the prince's sweet tooth was causing him problems. Fortunately he had access to wonderful dentists, and along he went for a visit.

The dentist welcomed the prince into his practise, and went about inspecting the prince's teeth.

"Oh dear," exclaimed the dentist, "this really doesn't look too good!"

The dentist went on to treat the prince's teeth as best he could. However, knowing that the real cause of the problems was the sweet tooth that the prince has, he recommended that the prince reduce the amount of sweet foods and drinks he was consuming.

The Prince having had his teeth seen to and 'fixed' for the time-being, soon forgot about his toothache and the advice given to him by the dentist.

Before long the toothache returned, and another visit to the dentist followed. This cycle repeated, until the prince grew tired of listening to the dentist. The toothache had become permanent, and the prince could no longer remember what life was like beforehand.

The toothache made for a grumpy prince who could no longer see the beauty in and around him. However, the prince did have a council of wise men who all had teeth. So, as the advice of the dentist wasn't to the prince's liking, he asked his wise men what would they recommend. The wise men knew that the real solution was that proposed by the dentist, they also knew that the prince didn't want to hear that solution.

Years passed with different ideas being tried. The wise men, after all, had a lot of teeth between them, surely they would know an answer. There was trouble now brewing in the kingdom. As people looked up to the prince, they too had chosen to ignore the advice of the dentist, and many more people were suffering with toothache.

One day a traveller was visiting from a similar kingdom, and saw the terrible suffering that these people were living with. The traveller was puzzled, as in almost every respect this kingdom was identical to the one he had come from. The difference was that his prince had listened to the dentist. The traveller had heard the tales of how all the different ideas had been tried (except that recommended by the dentist), and he came up with an idea.

He sought an audience with the Prince, claiming to be able to solve the toothache once and for all. To do so, the Prince would need to trust him, and do something that had never been done before.

The Prince after years of having suffered, and having seen his people suffered, acquiesced to the traveller's demands. The traveller asked the Prince to give the Dentist's solution a chance, to try it for a short period of time. After all, every other 'solution' had already been tried, so what did the Prince have to lose?

The trial was a fantastic success, and the Prince and his subjects were able to rejoice and enjoy the fruits of their kingdom once more and they lived happily ever after.


The Prince represents us, our communities, his toothache the problems that motor traffic dominance presents us, the Dentist our highways engineers with evidence based solutions, and the wise men our politicians listening to the demands of the Prince whilst often ignoring the advice of the Dentist.

Hope you enjoyed the story. If anyone fancies doing a little picture to go along with it do drop me a line.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Thank you & don't forget to vote

What a journey this local election campaign has been.

It has been a massive learning curve for me and my team, but I'm really proud of everything that we have achieved.

Whoever the people of Tooting choose to vote for tomorrow, or have already done so with their postal votes, I believe we have made a big contribution to debates locally about creating safer streets, standing up for local people, cleaning up Tooting and boosting local business.

With over 2200 signatures on a range of our safer streets petitions collected since September, I know it's not just me who can see the issues on our local streets. It is easy to point the finger at problems. The real challenge is how to fix them.

I don't believe that disagreements on the perfect solution should mean that we don't even try. For too many years that has been the case. Creating safer streets has many benefits, and if you haven't seen this video link before, then I'd highly recommend you watch it. Only 6 mins of your time:

If the Youtube link doesn't work you can see it via this link instead:

If you live locally, I hope that I and my team will be able to count on your vote. Come what may after the count, rest assured, we will raise the issues you've mentioned to us on the doorstep with council officers, and we will continue to champion Tooting working hard to improve it for everyone whichever political party you choose to vote for.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Will you support me, again?

Yes, this is party political, but let me explain.

If you follow this blog or my twitter feed, you'll already know that I'm standing as a candidate for the Lib Dems in Tooting. On Saturday Brian Paddick came down to join me and my team door knocking around the ward.

Leaving party politics aside, you know I really want safer streets in Tooting. I've been campaigning for it through local groups for years now. One of the main motivations for me to stand, was the frustration at the very real blocks that both local Labour councillors and Conservative ones have put in the way of real progress to make a real difference to our streets.

So, whatever your party affiliation, if you share my desire to see real change to make the streets of Tooting safer sooner, then can you lend me your vote? We've had over 2200 people sign a bunch of safer streets petitions since last September. Neither Labour or the Conservatives have backed them. No wonder that people don't believe politicians when they say they support making the streets safer, but then the ones we've had representing us haven't delivered any meaningful change for years.

I'd really appreciate it, and I promise if elected I'll deliver on making our streets safer for everyone.

Let me know via this form.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Elegant, simple & effective - Merton safe streets

Earlier today I dropped my Brompton into A W Cycles in SW19 (too lazy to change flat on rear myself) and I noticed that Merton Council are updating the older solution they had in place to stop rat-running and create a safer street environment.

This is an example of what they have had in place for a long time now, unsightly, but effective.

Here is the 2014 edition/look which achieves the same result:

The slimline bollards just behind the Mum and her child in the picture above, are a little harder to see in the picture below. However, if you look closely you can see they are set back from the main road. This allows for deliveries, and people to park cars to visit local businesses. 

In the pictures below, we have what I'm sure will be in time, raised flower beds / planters. A nice looking bottleneck to the end of a residential street.

For those who think that my ideas to trial solutions which will similarly block streets off in Tooting are fool hardy or won't work why don't you take a look just down the road. Perhaps ask some of the people who live on those streets how they find driving to the shops etc.

Thankfully, we don't need to look very far to see some high quality examples of how our streets can be improved. We only need to take 10 mins on the 57 bus from Tooting Broadway, or a walk or ride on your bike towards Abbey Mills to see what already exists.

Fingers crossed, that whoever gets elected in the coming local elections, they will recognise that a lot of people would like Wandsworth Council to trial out this type of street design.

I hope that together with my Lib Dem colleagues we might be lucky enough to represent Tooting. If so, we'll be able to speed up the roll-out of these trials and hopefully quickly make a significant improvement to the lives of everyone living in Tooting.