Tag Archives: Southfields

Cllr Kim Caddy and the Southfields by-election

Southfields Tyres: the only Southfields 'landmark' photo I have!

I don’t really do politics. Not on here, and not that much anywhere else. I’ve commented enough on my political evolution to delve into it once more.

However, this has been a remarkable week in politics and I’ve been unable to reflect on it. The major political event locally has been the victory of Kim Caddy, the Conservative candidate in the Southfields by-election.

Congratulations are due to her on her victory, I have no doubt she will be a great asset to the council and Southfields.

But local politics do not exist in a vacuum. Unfortunately.

The past week will never be considered the coalition’s zenith. We have a petrol crisis that seems to have resulted entirely from a few ill-thought pronouncements by ministers. Granny tax was joined by pasty tax and I don’t think the public perception of politicians was enhanced one iota by the various photo opportunities provided by Gregg’s.

A few polls have even showed Labour with a double-digit lead, equating to something like a nine or ten per cent swing from the Conservatives.

So for us, locally, to hold a council seat in a by-election with only a 3.5% swing away from us is pretty good going. And given the national mood music must leave the opposition wondering what on earth they need to do to win a seat.

And then there’s Bradford West.

Only hours have passed, but I’m pretty sure the only rational response is to laugh at the absurdity of George Galloway being elected again. But what is particularly crushing for Labour is the scale of the defeat.

I’m sure that Bradford West may not have been the cleanest election in history. And I’m sure that the large Muslim population was a key factor. But those alone, and even together, surely cannot account for the 10,000 vote majority for Galloway.

If this week hasn’t been the coalition’s zenith, it might well be Labour’s nadir.

Council nominations

As I mentioned at the end of last week the nominations for the council elections closed last week and the statement of people nominated was published today. The full list can be downloaded from the council.

This is the sort of thing that only really interests anoraks like me, but to give you the highlights.

Every ward has a full slate of Conservative, Labour and (surprisingly) Liberal Democrat candidates. I don’t think the Lib Dems have managed that in my memory. Having said that, I’m not sure how committed they are, I know at least one has publicly stated being a paper candidate, and Layla Moran, their parliamentary candidate is also standing for council in Latchmere.

The Greens have fielded a number of candidates, with at least one per ward. Four years ago they managed to beat Labour in a number of places, so might be interesting to watch.

Then there are a few ‘others’:

  • A Christian Peoples Alliance candidate in Latchmere
  • An independent candidate in Southfields
  • A Communist in Tooting
  • And most disappointing of all, a BNP candidate in West Hill

I believe Wandsworth is a remarkably cohesive borough, so it’s a real pity that they feel there’s enough division here to field a candidate (even worse, they are supposedly fielding a candidate in the Putney parliamentary election). What’s particularly interesting, however, is the ward and constituency they have chosen: the BNP takes votes from Labour – so chosing a Conservative held ward and a Conservative held constituency does not seem terribly logical. Given that they won’t win and their aim is, one assumes, a good showing, they’d have been better somewhere with a stronger Labour vote.

Only [insert party] can win here

I’m a lover of Lib Dem campaign leaflets. For years they have had a few consistent themes.

One is the clipboard, the idea is that if you have a clipboard you are obviously (a) important, (b) working and, by extension (c) doing important work. So what better way to show how busy you are than to always have a clipboard with you. The Glum Councillors website shows a few fine examples from Lewisham and Woking and the James Sandbach, the Putney Lib Dem candidate is clearly a master.

But the classic Lib Dem theme is the ‘winning here/two horse race/can’t win here’ bar chart. These have been mocked and derided over the years since they bear no relation to actual figures, statistics or results – but instead give a misleading impression of Lib Dem chances. So I was amazed to see the Southfields version (where they are in second place and beating Labour) with the health warning: “not to scale”.

I actually did wonder what a to scale graph would look like, so made one, based on the average votes per party in 2006, which were Conservative 2,241, Liberal Democrat 773 and Labour 650. The Lib Dems weren’t that far out, they got the order right, at least.

What will be interesting is to see how those graphs look on 7 May. With an unpopular Labour party nationally it might well be that they will struggle to hold second place in many wards locally.

Back in 2006 candidates from the Lib Dems or Greens managed to insert themselves into the second place group (i.e. 4th to 6th place in 3 member wards) in 8 wards. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that when it comes to political campaigning – if not council administration – that the real opposition will be coming from those parties rather than Labour.

Weekly wrap-up, 6 November

Fairy cake and a cup of teaIt seems to have been an oddly quiet week.

Regeneration and Community Safety OSC (well, cycling)
I posted about the meeting the following day, so will not repeat the points. Except, rather smugly, to point out that I cycled to the meeting. I’m rather pleased that I’ve been managing to keep the cycling up – and am finding it an interesting experiment.

Last Monday was the first time I saw some really bad driving. Hitherto I’ve found other road users considerate, much to my surprise. There had been a few annoyances, but nothing major. However on Monday I found myself braking as a car turned left right in front of me and being nudged into the back of the bus by someone who didn’t want to give me any room. Perhaps worst was the driver who ostentatiously pulled into the oncoming lane to pass while pointedly accelerating then swerving rapidly to avoid a head-on collision with cars coming the other way.

My other cycling experiences have all been positive, and I’m going to carry on, but a salutary lesson that it isn’t all good!

Oxford Circus and Balham
It’s mischief and a little childish. But I really enjoyed the whole Oxford Circus and Balham episode. I think what made it sweeter, however, was that Westminster responded. As far as I’m aware the conversation was a few people with Balham connections tweeting about the crossings there. I don’t think anyone was really seriously suggesting Balham and Oxford Circus were the same.

The episode got picked up in a few places. I know the Municipal Journal ran it. The Guardian’s Dave Hill mentioned it and I understand the Local Government Chronicle have also featured my apology blogpost.

Alertbox in Northcote Road
This morning saw a formal launch for AlertBox in Northcote Road. AlertBox is a remarkably simple system that connects retailers and allows them to alert each other to potential problems – for example if they spotted a shoplifter – and to call for help if needed.

The system already runs in Southfields and Tooting where many shopkeepers rave about it.

The installation in Northcote Road was funded by the council and Battersea Crime Prevention Panel, with the technical support coming from the Community Safety Division.

Weekend events
This weekend see two major events. The first is the Battersea Park fireworks on Saturday. The display has always been one of London’s best and I hope the weather holds out to make it another successful year.

The second are the Remembrance Day services on Sunday. The two ‘civic’ services are at St Mary’s in Battersea and St Mary’s Putney. But there are other services taking place across the borough.

Battersea’s neighbourhoods – a renaissance?

At last week’s Northcote Road Carnival I was having a chat with Essential Local magazine about the event. One of the things they asked for was a quote about the day. And it was virtually impossible to give, because pretty much anything you could say was put on the bottom of a list of other (far more important) people saying much the same thing: fantastic day, congratulations to organisers, excellent atmosphere, etc.

So I tried to take a broader view and pointed to how it illustrated the unique offer and character of Northcote Road, which in turn illustrates the unique offers and characters of Battersea.

If you consider Clapham Junction as a hub, whatever direction you walk you are in Battersea, but each is a very different bit of Battersea. To the north, you go up Falcon Road, Battersea High Street and Battersea Square. To the east, my own favourite bit (obviously) Lavender Hill. To the south is St John’s Road and Northcote Road. And finally to the west St John’s Hill. While each share similarities, accidents of history, architecture and even traffic management means each has it’s own character and style. They attract different types of resident, different types of shop and different types of shopper – even though they are just minutes walk from each other.

While I’ve found it fascinating watching each of these evolve over the 12 years I’ve lived in the area, what has been most exciting is the past few when, it seems, there’s been a much stronger sense of community developing – and the resurgence in street-party style events has been one of the most visible aspects of this.

Last year saw just Lavender Hill hosting an event. This year they were joined by Northcote Road and St John’s Hill are planning an event in September. This isn’t limited to Battersea, only slightly further afield Old York Road will be having their third street party later this year and Southfields are looking at their first event this year.

I’m not quite sure what has prompted these events. Clearly there will be an element of seeing the success of one event and wishing to emulate it – but that is slightly simplistic, since a huge amount of work is required to organise one of these days, along with a significant investment in time and money.

But whatever the reason I’m glad that it is happening. One of the real shames of London (and I know I’m as guilty of this as anyone) is that we’ve lost our neighbourhoods – and anything that helps restore that community spirit can only be a good thing.

More recession workshops

The council are running two more ‘recession workshops’ for local businesses.

The first is tonight (Wednesday 29 April) for businesses based in Wandsworth, Earlsfield and Southfields.  It is being held at Blend, 111-113 Wandsworth High Street at 7pm.  Attendees will be lucky enough to hear me speak on the council’s reponse.

The second is tomorrow (Thursday 30 April) for Clapham Junction businesses.  Held at Battersea Arts Centre on Lavender Hill it starts at 5.45pm.

GLE oneLondon will be at both events to provide advice and are offering ongoing mentoring to businesses.  Both will also provide networking opportunities for attendees.