in Wandsworth

Imagine having organised the largest campaign in recent (and no-so-recent) memory in Wandsworth and, at the end, you attend the relevant council committee: the opportunity for you to have your say. You’ve filled the public gallery, the overspill room is standing room only and, for the first time ever, the public are filling the council chamber to listen to a council meeting. And after the first resident deputation what is the Tory approach?

To accuse the organisers of lying and inflating their support.

I was ashamed by association. Rather than discuss the issues or concerns the first instinct of the majority group on the council was to attack the people.

It got a bit better as the evening progressed, but the writing was already on the wall. There were five excellent deputations, representing local campaigners, residents, the Friends of Battersea Park and the Battersea Society. I also had my say.

When it came to Formula E’s supporters Cllr Cook maintained a Trappist silence throughout the meeting, as did most of the Conservative side. The managing director and team from Enable, the company with the contract to manage Wandsworth’s parks did most of the talking. The council’s finance director, unable to talk about amounts, gave some hypotheticals, if the income was this much, we could pay this many social workers, if this much we could re-surface this many roads… or if it was £350,000 we could pay off one senior officer I saw one person mischievously tweet.

But it was all largely irrelevant. Despite one hint it would be a free vote (the hinter being one of those who stayed silent throughout) the decision had been made behind closed doors long before it got to committee. The Conservatives followed the whip and voted as a block, recommending renewal by seven votes to four.

I know a few of those voting for Formula E had reservations, and one contacted me afterwards to explain their position: “but what can you do?” They asked.

“Well,” I thought, “you could vote against, I did.”

Leave a Reply

  1. It was a sad moment for Battersea and for localism. But I am glad you finally acknowledge what we have been saying for years: the Tory majority ignores residents. Putney Society, Wandsworth Society and CJAG have already accused by the Council of being nimbys last April. Now Friends of Battersea Park, the Battersea Society and a few more groups have been accused of “lying and inflating their support”. This is sad, very sad indeed.

  2. They are all cowards. Then Cook follows Govindia’s example and insults one of the protesters in the Times, a statement that is tantamount to libel.

    • That Times article was spiteful. Expect nothing less from the Tory Press; they will play dirty and drag good people like Paul into the mire. But don’t let it get to you Sue; ignore it and rise above. Together we can beat them.

  3. Many thanks, Ed. Your support and that of Jack and others has been very greatly appreciated, and your articles and video very highly valued. Keep in touch. Next year Excel, who knows. I gather Cllr. Hart (he who did not know the difference between a Council website and a petition) has also been insulting people on Twitter. Lucky Tooting residents.

  4. I do not remember Cllr.Lescott adding anything to the debate. He asked a question about wind turbines, and carbon foot prints, that was answered in great detail by Dr.Ekins. He did not follow up on any of it. I remember Councillors Speck, Jones, Anderson and Stokes, plus O’Broin and Torrington (parks are a luxury), and Strickland, plus Hart and his “go somewhere else” contribution. Cllr. Osborn spoke, as did James Cousins. And, of course, there was Kim Caddy’s clear declaration that she would be voting for FE, which we took to be the clarion call to her team.

  5. James, can you somehow make a short separate section on the Lescott rather surreal dialogue? it’s so funny, I want to circulate it.

    • Cllr. Walsh – he had a few ITV shares.Or maybe it was a ploy to avoid showing his colleagues that he would have liked to vote against FE in the Park.

  6. I love that they call us nimby’s – do they somehow forget that we’re they ones that elect them? As if someone from Adelaide would really care one way or another – it’s obvious that only local people are going to be the opinion formers.

    • For a large majority of people living in the neighbouring wards, the park is their back yard. So, yes, we are all nimbies.

Webmentions

  • Council voted for 2 more years of Formula E in Battersea Park | Clapham Junction Action Group 30 November, 2015

    […] Tory abstention. If they had had the courage of their convictions, the result would have been 7:5. James Cousins spoke to another Tory [1] who said he was with us, but then “what can you do?”.  As James said, you vote against […]