Council leader’s New Year message to Wandsworth
Published: Friday 23rd December 16
In his New Year message to the people of Wandsworth, Cllr Ravi Govindia looks back at the major events affecting the borough in 2016, including the EU referendum and tech giant Apple announcing plans for a new ‘campus’ in north Battersea.
The council leader also looks ahead to 2017, highlighting key priorities like tackling air pollution, defending the borough from the threat of new Heathrow flightpaths and enhancing children’s social care services.
He said: “2016 will go down in history as the year our nation voted to leave the EU, but Wandsworth will also be remembered as returning one of the highest ‘remain’ votes in the country (75 per cent).
As a diverse, welcoming and cohesive borough our local result makes sense. We are very lucky to have tens of thousands of European nationals living and working here; as a community we will want to reassure them about their future security and prosperity as we chart a new relationship with the European Union.
The past year also delivered major breakthroughs for the council’s regeneration efforts, including tech giant Apple announcing plans for a new ‘campus’ within Battersea Power Station. The council’s broader aim is to create a thriving new tech industry cluster in this part of the borough which will offer generations of local people a wealth of new opportunities. Watch this space.
The council’s Aspirations Programme powered ahead in 2016, with hundreds of unemployed people helped into work or offered valuable training and learning opportunities. This council-wide programme is unique to Wandsworth and ensures that regeneration and growth directly translate into improved life chances for existing communities.
Other major highlights from the past year include seeing more than three hundred affordable homes handed over to local people, securing London’s highest cycling rate increase (up 12.5 per cent), seeing Oasis Academy in Putney welcome its first students and completing a major expansion of the exceptional St Mary’s Primary School in Nine Elms.
This was also the year Wandsworth launched a unique shared staffing arrangement with neighbouring Richmond Council, which sees a combined workforce serving both boroughs. This move is on course to save £10m every year for each council, helping us shield front line services from the impact of falling Government funding.
Looking ahead, we have a great deal to look forward to in 2017. The Royal College of Art are preparing plans for a new campus close to the Thames in Battersea, The Tooting Common Heritage project will improve this wonderful green space and restore its rare natural habitats, we will begin installing a borough-wide electric vehicle charging network and Putney High Street will become a ‘green bus corridor’.
While many councils are expected to close libraries next year, Wandsworth will continue to rebuild and invest in its network, keeping every branch open and improving the great services they offer. We will also expand our litter and flytip enforcement team even further and clamp down harder on the small minority of people who disrespect our community through environmental crime.
There will also be major challenges to contend with in 2017, including the urgent need to bring down air pollution. The council will step-up its air quality programme and work hard to convince the Mayor and Government to make the bold strategic changes necessary to address this serious health issue.
Over the next 12 months the council must also cement the strong improvements we’ve made in children’s social care services and redouble efforts to establish the very highest standards.
The threat of Heathrow expansion, and new flightpaths that come with it, must be faced in 2017. Along with Greenpeace and three other councils, we are challenging this project in the courts just as we did in 2009. We have beaten the third runway before and will do all we can to beat it again.
Another major challenge facing Wandsworth is the continued impact of industrial action on Southern Railway services. The RMT and ASLEF unions have already made thousands of local people suffer appalling levels of disruption without a credible cause. This has to stop and we will do all we can to see this situation resolved. The mayor needs to clarify his position on driver only trains - after all these are the norm on DLR and London Underground.
There will also be major changes to London-wide services in the coming year and, among others proposals, we need to look carefully at the Mayor of London’s plan to remove Wandsworth’s dedicated police Commander and replace this role with a regional Commander looking after a much wider area. How can one person meaningfully provide policing leadership across 4 boroughs?
We also need to ensure plans to merge South Thames College within a much larger Further Education partnership can work well for our local community.
And finally, I want to highlight two big opportunities 2017 has to offer. In the coming months the council will appoint development partners for the Winstanley and York Road estate regeneration project in Battersea, and for the Alton estate regeneration in Roehampton. These ambitious schemes are set to increase the number of social rent and affordable homes on our estates, vastly improve housing standards and will offer every directly affected tenant and owner-occupier a brand new home to replace their old one. I believe this is a fair and people centered approach to regeneration that other boroughs can follow.
I wish everyone a very healthy, prosperous and happy 2017.”
Leader of Wandsworth Council
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Out of interest, what business does the Mayor have in a long running dispute at Southern Railway? The terrible service is not due to the industrial action, and in fact has been going on since Southern took over the contract. They simply do not have enough staff to run the service without resorting to overtime cover. This council is one which has run roughshod over business needs and requests. They have imposed unrealistic requirements on businesses regarding commercial waste. And they are not prepared to listen to concerns. There is a lack of investment into thriving but underfunded business areas (Battersea for instance) but other areas have had money thrown at them.Chris Hall
5 January 2017
I also am getting concerned about how Mr Govindia is meddling in areas they should not be part of his remit (e.g. Heathrow expansion). Your are leader of Wandsworth only. Every government project is going to affect someone negatively, it's important to do projects for the greater good of the (post brexit) country. My real concern is how social care is going to be funded in the years ahead - adding hundreds to each council tax bill is not the way forward.Simon l
30 December 2016
People are not stupid and know it is Govia Southern that are pouring misery onto their customers, week in week out, and it's wilful spite to try and blame the unions and the hard working frontline staff for all the ills on this part of the network. Blaming trade unions and their members for problems that have built up over many years is a cop out and I suspect Cllr Govindia knows this.Ian H
28 December 2016
What gives Govindia the right to express the opinion that "we are 'lucky' to have tens of thousands of European nationals living and working here" or applauding the fact that area returned one of the highest "Remain" vote (75%) in the country? It merely confirms that the area is out of touch with the indigenous people of Britain, full of young idealistic and selfish opportunists who have no loyalty or allegiance to this country. Stick to the job of local government not, national or international affairs.Raymond Tilstock
23 December 2016
I live in the borough of Wandsworth and like to hear all updates. With thanksI'm just
23 December 2016
This man rarely answers emails from concerned residents and ignores residents concerns. He heads a most undemocratic council. The character of Battersea is being destroyed by high rise ugly buildings but residents objections are ignored. The same with FE car racing in Battersea Park. He and his council are a disgrace to democracy. VOTE THEM OUT in next electionsA Jackson
23 December 2016
In one clear post, N Paul shows why we voted overwhelmingly to remain. GPGarry Patten
23 December 2016
I voted to leave. For good reason. I am British and want to be British. Where is Wandsworth ? England I believe. Oh I'm English! Why am I wasting my money paying Council Tax so the borough can assist in bringing commercial benefit to the country as a whole? Why against Heathrow expansion? Why help road congestion/more pollution? Or is it TFL and the Red Mayor who is at fault for traffic slowing,bike lane disaster ,traffic light phasing, etc.? As for the Mayor? Well ,he is only interested in his own pathetic agenda. We need more local control. Not less. I am sure he will take all the glory for the estate regeneration!n Paul
23 December 2016
One small quibble: the DLR has Conductor only trains.Peter Carpenter
23 December 2016