Things I like to see 2

A borough rarely evokes the civic pride it deserves; the areas you identify with rarely have coterminous borders with a local authority. Indeed, I’d probably say I’m from Battersea before I’d say I was from Wandsworth.

And while I can think of any number of points of pride I have when comparing Wandsworth and others boroughs, I suspect most only appeal to me as a local government anorak. When I try to think of comparisons or competitions that might have wider appeal I run out of ideas after the London Youth Games (we came second this year) and It’s a Knockout (I don’t know if there was ever a Wandsworth team, but did once notice that Sandwell, in the West Midlands, still display their 1978 Heat 4 winner’s plaque in their Mayoral offices).

However, we have hammered the rest of London in a Nike+ running challenge this year. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned running on the blog (although I sometimes do on Twitter, and until recently auto-tweeted my runs) but couldn’t help pointing this one out.

Technically, it’s not finished, so yes, someone could beat us. But just over a week to go, and look at that lead!

If you fancy helping to dole out a similar drubbing to the rest of London next year and use Nike+ then join the challenge.

(I publish this hoping we do cling on to the lead, since I’m not intending to post again until next year when the challenge is over. Have a great Christmas and new year.)

This winter’s grit-bin locations

Help yourself: Grit bins have been placed in various locations around Wandsworth

Just like last year the council has place a number of grit bins around the borough, and I’ve updated the Google map I did of the locations.

Only two or three have moved (I didn’t keep a precise count of changes) so if you had a bin last year the chances are good it is back. And I added a further dozen or so locations to the map.


View Grit bin locations in a larger map

Two health-warnings.

  1. Wandsworth will still be gritting. Many (I think deliberately in some cases) think this means the council won’t grit pavements. The council will still be gritting as normal, however, this allows residents to look after themselves and their neighbours should they choose – it’s an extra, not a replacement.
  2. Any errors in the map are mine. I took the information from the council’s winter service plan (PDF). While in some cases I’ve been able to use my own local knowledge to make sure it’s accurate, I don’t know the whole borough well enough to do that. However, the grit bins are big yellow things, so this map should guide you close enough to see them.

[You can download the data I used to make this map (location, longitude and latitude) from my data page.

Things I like to see


View Larger Map

Google Maps is now more accurate!

Having been raised many times by many different people like the SW11tch campaign and various people from the Streetlife Identity Taskforce the mapping used by Google now puts Clapham over, well, Clapham.

While this shouldn’t take any credit away from map providers like Bing or the community created Open Street Map who never got it wrong in the first place, Google Maps is by far the most used online mapping service and often came up as an excuse even when a business was almost in Wandsworth (not naming names, Sainsbury’s Clapham St John’s).

It’s a bit of an early Christmas present, and inspires me to keep chipping away at the remaining Clapham/Battersea offenders.

Balham power failures (again)

The power in Balham Town Centre failed again today, affecting a number of businesses and residents. I thought it worth a quick blog post to mention a recent meeting I had with UK Power Networks to discuss the situation.

The history
To give a brief history this is not the first time it has happened. Two years ago, around exactly the same time, Balham was hit by a series of power failures. Not an idea situation when many businesses are in their busiest trading period of the year. At that time I (well, the council’s Economic Development Office and Balham Town Centre Manager) organised a meeting with EDF, who were responsible for power supply.

It must rank among the most pointless meetings I’ve ever attended. The EDF representative hadn’t even bothered to brief herself on the situation, throughout most of the meeting she refused even to apologise, and when she finally did it felt like a non-apology. So when we organised another meeting I wasn’t confident – but, in fact, it was totally different.

The current situation.
UK Power Networks are now responsible for the supply, they turned up knowing the history, with maps of the supply network there and an idea of the problem. And they apologised up front, they recognise their job is to get power through their network and to people.

They believe the problem is cabling (that would ordinarily be expected to outlive me and most of the people reading this blog) damaged by the 2009-2010 transformer failures. Unfortunately they cannot confirm this until that cable is replaced. And replacing that cable is a major job, involving excavating virtually all the pavement.

A solution?
They are planning to replace the cabling early next year. Ordinarily they would need to give three months notice to the council, but will work with the council to organise timing that is as convenient as possible to businesses who have already been badly affected (the EDO is also talking to the relevant council department to see if we can get the notice period waived to increase the options).

They also expressed a willingness to be as open and helpful as possible to businesses if there are any problems, and certainly to do a better job than EDF did a few years ago.

If you are affected and want any more details please get in touch, either via the comments, email or speak to the Balham Town Centre Manager. I know it’s not an idea situation for anyone there, but I’m far more confident that a resolution is coming with UK Power Networks than I ever could be with EDF.

Elsley School development


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Crest Nicholson, the developers who now own the Elsley School site, are holding an exhibition this Friday so residents can see their plans for the site.

The old Elsley School was the last remaining building on the old Gideon Road after the Luftwaffe and the post-war planning did their bit (that’s probably a bit unfair to the Luftwaffe, who didn’t get that much of it) and was never technically part of the Shaftesbury Park Estate or conservation area, although many assumed it was.

However, it is important to see what goes there ‘fits’, since it will be the architectural bridge between the Victorian estate and the post-war Gideon Road estate. And it will be a significantly different development for the immediate neighbours than the previous, relatively low, school and referral unit buildings.

The exhibition is between 3pm and 9pm on Friday 9 December at the St Nectarios Church in Wycliffe Road.

Battersea Power Station

Not, at first sight, the greatest news for Nine Elms that the banks have called in the administrators at Battersea Power Station. My reaction on hearing the news yesterday was not one I would readily repeat. Could the site be cursed?

In fact, the outlook for Nine Elms remains good.

For a start, the Government is now backing the Northern Line Extension. This is a linchpin for development, making the ambitious targets of creating 16,000 homes and 25,000 jobs possible.

Even the bad news of Treasury being put into administration has some positives. The financial status of Treasury had increasingly become an issue, and this at least bring that to a head.

And, most importantly, Nine Elms is a different place to the last time something like this happened, and Treasury bought the power station site from Parkview. Preparatory work has begun at Battersea Power Station and the first phases of the development could be started quickly, even if later phases change.

Meanwhile, other parts of Nine Elms are already moving forward. Work has started at Riverlight, the US Embassy has committed to the area and other developers continue with their plans.

So, not great news for Treasury. But that doesn’t mean Nine Elms future is any less bright.