Bar Social and Sugar Cane, Lavender Hill
Bar Social and Sugar Cane, Lavender Hill

Following on from the Bar Social application last week their neighbours, Sugar Cane at 247-249 Lavender Hill have also applied to extend their hours.

Their application is not quite as late as Bar Social’s, they are only applying to remain open until midnight on Sundays to Thursdays, but looking for the same 2am close on Fridays and Saturdays.

However, they are, like Bar Social, hoping to remove restrictions on use of their outside area to the front of the bar so smokers can use it all night. Given that smoking is often social, this may be a problem for neighbours who will potentially be disturbed by late night conversations.

If you have any representation to make the last date is 6 August 2009, it’s worth remembering that legally representations can only be considered by the licensing committee if they relate to the four licensing objectives:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • The prevention of public nuisance
  • Public safety
  • The protection of children from harm

The council’s licensing pages provide more information on licensing in Wandsworth.

As usual I’m publishing this for information.

As I said last week I was stopping doing my weekly report because it didn’t quite work, and, instead, replacing it with a weekly round-up.  Already, I’ve broken the promise (a politician, a broken promise, never!) by changing the name.  I obviously don’t know if this will work any better – only time will tell.

Dealing with a backlog
For anyone going on holiday having work build up while you are away is just one of those things you have to live with.  For most people you can delegate or ask someone to cover for you while you are away.  For a councillor, that just isn’t possible.  We don’t have admin support and don’t work in an office where people can keep an eye on your desk.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to chip away at the back-log of emails and mail that built up – while all the time new stuff is arriving.  Of course, much of this falls into the spam category (for example, as a councillor there are an amazing number of companies who think the council would like to pay several hundred pounds for me to attend their latest conference) but I don’t know that until I’ve opened the envelope or double clicked the email and read it.

As someone who likes to keep his inbox empty it is frustrating.  And if you are waiting for a reply from me and haven’t had one yet.  I apologise, I promise it will be coming as soon as possible.

One of the real highlights of the week has been Tooting.  We had a bit of a review of how the work under the Tooting Together programme has been going – and I hope most will agree that it’s made a real difference and has been a great example of how all the council’s departments can work together to astonishing results.

One of the real successes has been the time-banded waste collection, which has meant Tooting’s streets are much much cleaner.  It has also meant that we have identified a lot of businesses that were illegally dumping their waste.  It was a common cry from Labour that Wandsworth wasn’t cleaning the streets enough.  In fact Tooting was (jointly with Clapham Junction) the most cleaned area in Wandsworth, some parts were cleaned every couple of hours.  But Labour’s political convenience ignored the fact that it wasn’t the council littering the streets in the first place.

The subsequent crack-down has made a huge difference – even though there are still a few businesses resisting, feeling they have the right to dump their rubbish on our streets.

Hopefully the successes from Tooting can be copied in our other Town Centres in coming months.

Shaftesbury Ward News
We’ve also started putting together the July/August edition of the new ward newsletter.  Summer is always a quiet time, with people going on holiday and the formal business of the council taking a mini-recess (though that doesn’t seem to make any difference to how often I am there).  The newsletter should be out in a week or two, but if there’s anything you’d like to see in there, or even any local events you’d like to advertise, let me know.

One of the applicant's drawings of the proposed hotel on Falcon Road
One of the applicant's drawings of the proposed hotel on Falcon Road

As I reported in June the developers had requested the Mayor take responsibility for deciding their application to build a hotel on Falcon Road.

The Mayor has decided that he is content with Wandsworth Council taking the decision, meaning the council’s refusal of the application stands.

Legally, the Mayor has powers to determine applications if they are strategically important enough.  When the council’s planning department recommended refusal of the application to councillors the developers turned to the Mayor, claiming their hotel was of such importance he should be the decision maker.

There is a three step test the Mayor must apply: first, that the application has a significant impact on the implementation of the London plan; second, that there are significant effects on more than one borough; and third, that there are sound planning reasons for intervening.

His decision was that the hotel failed on all three tests!

The developer can still appeal to the Planning Inspectorate – which is the last option remaining to them.  If they do, all objections made to the council will be carried forward.

The council has received an application to vary the existing licence at Bar Social, 245 Lavender Hill.

The application essentially seeks to extend the opening hours of the premises so it can serve alcohol and provide entertainment until 1am on the mornings following Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and until 2am on the mornings following Friday and Saturday.

What might be more controversial is the application to remove the restriction on use of the external drinking area after 10pm. Wandsworth will often impose a condition on premises limiting the use of the external areas late at night because we are a residential area. Bar Social are looking to use their external drinking area until 11pm (they are currently limited to 10pm) and to be allowed to use the area for smoking only at any time.

Of course, this may create a noise nuisance – since smoking has become more social since the smoking ban.

If you have any representation to make the last date is 23 July 2009, it’s worth remembering that legally representations can only be considered by the licensing committee if they relate to the four licensing objectives:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder
  • The prevention of public nuisance
  • Public safety
  • The protection of children from harm

The council’s licensing pages provide more information on licensing in Wandsworth.

As usual I’m publishing this for information.

Many of you will have seen the adverts for The Big Lunch. The idea is that neighbours all contribute towards a communal lunch and get together to eat it and get to know one another better.

Some of you will have recognised the location for the adverts is in the Shaftesbury Park Estate. A little detective work (well, not much because it’s fairly obvious if you know the area) reveals Milton Avenue is, in fact, Morrison Street.

Now I’m actually a bit disappointed by it. Not because I don’t think it is an absolutely splendid idea, but because they have created a fake location. They are advertising the idea of turning streets into neighbourhoods, but then disguising a real neighbourhood.

Perhaps even more disappointing is that, when you look on the Big Lunch website there are, currently, no events planned on the Shaftesbury Estate. Just two people who are interested – one of them is me, and I am almost certainly not going to be around on 19 July (otherwise my neighbours would have been getting more leaflets and knocks on the door than usual from me).

I usually will point out that assuming someone else will do something is the wrong thing – generally it is, there has to be some responsibility taken – but I can’t help but feel that maybe the organisers of the Big Lunch could have given Morrison Street a little kick start.

But having aired that little gripe, it all echoes a point I failed to make last week, when I was was pondering the sudden upsurge in street parties, they suddenly seem to be fashionable again.

When I was younger we always seemed to be having street parties, my earliest memory is from the street party we had for the Silver Jubilee in 1977. I was given a ride in a cart pulled by a donkey (which I assume was doing the rounds of the street parties) and had to be taken off half-way through because I was bawling my eyes out.

Looking back, despite my feeling that street parties were a regular occurrence, there were probably only two – the Jubilee and the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981. But they seemed a natural and appropriate response to a national event. And I’m not quite sure why they stopped. Perhaps because there weren’t any more excuses. Perhaps because society changed. Perhaps because things like the Atari and video were taking off and people just didn’t want to meet other people anymore.

And maybe just blogging about it isn’t good enough. Maybe I should have cancelled my plans for 19 July, knocked on doors and delivered those leaflets to try and get something organised on my street. Having failed to do anything, I’m actually just as much to blame for the decline in neighbourhood spirit as anything else.

Maybe I should resolve to do better next year… Anyone with me?

As a little footnote the council issued a single traffic order for all the Big Lunch applications they had received (thereby saving on costs). There are only seven roads that will be officially closed on 19 July: Bridgeford Street SW18, Cloudesdale Road SW12, Fernside Road SW12, Galveston Road SW15, Martindale Road SW12, Salterford Road SW17, Weiss Road SW15.

Over the past few months I’ve blogged about the disruption suffered by residents of Eccles Road because of the sewer work being undertaken by Thames Water. The previous posts were: Eccles Road’s Jack and Jill waterworks, Eccles Road waterworks and Eccles Road and traffic.

The report, which is on the council’s website, is a bit slow in coming, largely due to the need to suspend much of the council’s routine activity during the European election purdah.

And, to be fair, the report probably doesn’t satisfy many of the residents. The council is heavily restricted when it comes to works by utility companies, and this comes across quite clearly in the paper. Utility companies have the right to access their infrastructure to carry out work. There is little the council can do about it and, once done, any legal action is a matter for residents and their legal advisors.

One issue that is within the council’s control are parking permits, but here the council will not offer a refund, since a permit is not a guarantee of a parking space and the works only obstructed a small portion of the zone. I know this will disappoint residents.

On a more positive note the council has undertaken a traffic survey since the works were completed to assess the traffic levels and speeds on the road now the road has been re-opened. The data from those surveys is still being analysed. I am currently arranging a meeting with residents and council officers to discuss the potential for road closure.

One of the applicant's drawings of the proposed hotel on Falcon Road
One of the applicant's drawings of the proposed hotel on Falcon Road

Although the application for the hotel was rejected last night the developers are now appealing to the Mayor.

Any applicant has the right to appeal a decision, which will normally go to the planning inspectorate.  This is unusual in that it’s not, technically, an appeal, but instead a request that the Mayor takes responsibility for the decision (and presumably, having taken responsibility, approves it).

I’ll also confess I don’t really understand the motives.  The usual justification for asking the Mayor to rule on an application is because it impacts on his wider London strategies.  It’s hard to argue that London is in desperate need for more hotel capacity.

You can argue that Wandsworth needs more capacity – but that’s a Wandsworth, not a London, matter.

Another reason might be that the application has implications for more than one borough.  Again, it’s hard to see how, the site is some miles from the nearest border with Lambeth, and the size means it’s unlikely to have any effect on any of our neighbours.

I would hope this doesn’t get anywhere with the Mayor.  The developers best way forward is to work with the council to come up with an acceptable scheme, rather than touting the application around in the hope someone will eventually say yes.

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.

I’ve been producing these weekly reports for a few weeks now, you can read why and some of my thoughts about it. As I commented in there, it’s far from complete, it misses out a lot of the ‘private’ meetings and casework but you may find it interesting…

Lavender Hill Street Party
I take no credit for the Street Party, as I posted on Monday, all the credit belongs else where – but it took up a good chuck of my Sunday and was a truly fantastic event, if you were there I know you’ll agree, if you weren’t then make sure you don’t miss it next year.

Local Strategic Partnership
I attended, as one of the council’s representatives, the Local Strategic Partnership on Wednesday. The Partnership comprises bodies like the council, police, local NHS as well as representatives from local business, the voluntary sector and community groups.

Wednesday saw us spending a lot of time discussing the services we provide for young people, which provided a great example of the importance of partnership working. The council has a target of reducing the number of young people entering the criminal justice system, but the police are meant to increase their arrests – meaning that, unless we co-operate, we are undermining each other’s work!

John Burns School
As posted earlier today I went along for the opening of John Burns School’s new playground. Which is also a new community playground! It is really well equipped, so worth popping along if you have children in the 5-12 age range. It was also great to have a look around the school. I was a school governor there up until around 2002, so it was also good to see how the school had changed and improved over the years.