There are two licensing matters in Shaftesbury ward currently scheduled for consideration by the council’s licensing committee. The first is a new application for ‘Grill on the Hill’ at 89 Lavender Hill. The application is to sell alcohol between 9.00am and 11.00pm seven days a week and to provide late night refreshment until 11.30pm every night.
The premises were 1st Stop Audio Visual, so this will be the first food and drink offer on that particular stretch of shops, but there are plenty of similar offerings nearby. It does not seem that unreasonable an application, although it will be a change of use that might concern the immediate neighbours. Representations, however, must be made by today (the application was submitted before Christmas).
The other licensing matter concerns Best One (now trading as Thirsty Camel) at 246 Lavender Hill. This is a review of the licence against the prevention of crime and disorder licensing objective after ‘illicit tobacco products’ were found on the premises. This particular branch of Best One has previously found itself the subject of a review back in 2011 after it was caught selling alcohol to underage customers. The closing date for representations on this review is 30 January.
For either case, the representations must relate to the four licensing objectives:
The council have received a licensing application from Social Pantry, 170 Lavender Hill. They are seeking a licence to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises between 10am and 11:30pm seven days a week, and to provide late night refreshment between 5pm and 11.30pm seven days a week.
Social Pantry is a relatively new café on Lavender Hill, but definitely serves one of the better coffees in SW11 (although I think they sometimes let the milk get a bit too hot) and this application is to clearly allow them to offer a slightly different trade in the evening. Personally, it’s hard to see how it would be a problem for any of the council’s licensing objectives, but you might think differently.
If you want to make a representation you have until 30 December. Representations must relate to the four licensing objectives:
It was a hot night for a public meeting, and a hot public meeting to discuss the Transport for London (TfL) proposals to re-route the G1 bus route. Around 50 people attended and, for 90 minutes or so, had their say on the G1. I was surprised that the turnout exceeded that of the Shaftesbury Let’s Talk meeting earlier this year. Proof, perhaps, of the truth in Tip O’Neill‘s adage that all politics is local.
The background and suggestion are fairly simple. Residents on western part Sabine Road have suffered with the “stereo effect of the G1” travelling on the road in both directions, and have lobbied for a change ever since the current route has been in operation. These concerns were raised with TfL who suggested another option would be run the westbound route for the full length of Eversleigh Road.
The current situation is that around 120 people have replied to the TfL consultation, and the results are something like 65% against and 35% in favour: unsurprisingly there is an incredibly strong correlation between whether someone is for or against and whether they live on Sabine Road or Eversleigh Road.
Looking through the notes I jotted of the meeting I got the sense that the proportions last night were about the same, and again, largely a function of where the resident lived (I had some admiration for the Sabine Road residents who spoke up for a move; it is never easy to speak up in favour of something when a majority of those present have been vocally hostile towards it). Several additional points were raised, including a perception that the buses speeded through estate (although previous council traffic surveys didn’t find evidence of widespread speeding by any vehicle) and that something needed to be done on speed. Unfortunately enforcement of 20mph zones is not national police policy.
A few misconceptions were raised. Several seemed to think it was essentially a conspiracy by TfL because the introduction of Boris Bikes would require a new route. In fact, the two issues are separate and even if the bikes did need a new route—which they shouldn’t since they do not take road space, only parking spaces—it is invariably the case that Bernard Ingham’s version of Hanlon’s razor is correct.
Another misconception, which might be a matter of opinion, is that the council and TfL were wrong to even investigate this. Personally, whatever the outcome, I think we would have been wrong not to consider the complaints from, and issues faced by, the Sabine Road residents.
Unfortunately it is one of those topics in which it is not possible to end with a result that pleases everyone, since while there was widespread love for the bus service (any mention of the service’s value and wanting to keep it on the estate triggered applause), no-one really wants it going past their home. If there is an overall positive from this, it’s that the issue has resulted in the formation of the Shaftesbury Residents’ Group, and hopefully the energy they have displayed opposing this will go on to help with other issues and topics affected the Shaftesbury Park Estate.
If the Transport for London proposal to re-route the G1 bus vexes or delights you, then you might be interested in a public meeting taking place next week.
Organised by the three ward councillors the meeting will be attended by officials from TfL and the council and will allow residents to express their views—for and against—the proposals. As I stated in my previous post, I suspect a great deal of weight will be given to public attitude since the technical arguments for either route are quite marginal.
The meeting is open, so you can just turn up, and will take place at 7pm on Tuesday, 9 July at Shaftesbury Park School on Ashbury Road.
I have a soft spot for the G1. It has always struck me as a cozy route and is probably the most friendly bus on which I have ever travelled in London. However, not everyone is a big fan of the route, so Transport for London are consulting on re-routing it for part of its journey through the Shaftesbury Park Estate.
In essence, the proposals would mean that on its journey southbound it would remain on Eversleigh Road, rather than travelling half-way along Eversleigh Road before turning up Grayshott Road and then along Sabine Road before leaving.
TfL made the proposal in response to complaints residents of Sabine Road made to the council about, among other things, speeding buses, damage to cars and traffic congestion caused by the buses.
To deal with the bread-and-butter of the issue first the formal consultation runs until 12 July, and a letter and map of the changes should have been sent to all households in the area. However, following the negative response from Eversleigh Road it looks like they will be extending that consultation period. As councillors we are trying to organise a public meeting on the issue in conjunction with TfL. If you would be affected, positively or negatively, by the proposed changes I encourage you to respond directly to TfL.
Less straightforward is how to satisfy everyone. Or, if you assume that not everyone can be satisfied, how you achieve the most satisfaction for residents.
The G1’s route was changed fairly recently. Until a few years ago its southbound journey took it on a dog-leg out of the estate via Eland Road. While that change was not universally popular I have no doubt that Eland Road was unsuitable for a bus, aside from being a fairly steep hill, there are no natural passing places and the entry onto Lavender Hill is narrow.
To my mind—which is only that of a mildly well-informed layman on traffic management matters—the arguments between Eversleigh and Sabine Roads are less clear. Indeed, they are so unclear that some of the arguments can be made both ways depending on viewpoint. One argument raised is that the change will mean some less mobile passengers will have further to go to catch the bus. The obvious counter argument is that some less mobile passengers will not have to go as far to catch the bus.
But cherry-picking that argument should not detract from some of the real concerns about the impact on traffic at the junction, the loss of parking spaces on the final corner and the impact of the bus on a road that already has significant noise issues from the railway line to the north.
At the risk of being overly philosophical (and as ever, I considered self-censoring, before deciding to publish and be damned) there is a utilitarian dimension to the issue. There is clearly dissatisfaction with the current route from Sabine Road residents. There is also dissatisfaction with the proposed change from Eversleigh Road residents. Given that no-one is suggesting removing the route from the estate and there isn’t a magical solution that pleases everyone (unless I lack the imagination to see it) which option creates the fewest problems and least unhappiness?
I’m happy to admit that, at this stage, I just don’t know. Indeed, this may be one of those issues where there is never enough concrete evidence to favour one option over another. I suspect that TfL are in a similar position, so whatever your views, I’d recommend making sure they know.
The two big issues that came out of the Shaftesbury Let’s Talk were dog fouling and fly-tipping. Poos and dumps.
These were unsurprising, several had written to us before to raise the issues and they are running problems. I often report fly-tips and have raised the issue of dog fouling repeatedly. But these are problems that just don’t seem to go away.
They are also interesting because they are indicative of a particular type of problem, where the council get a lot of the blame for someone else’s misbehaviour. Somewhere in the act of an owner letting their dog foul the pavement or someone illegally dumping their rubbish the fact it needs cleaning up becomes the council’s responsibility. It is, however, worth remembering that responsibility would never be needed if people were just a little more considerate of their neighbours.
I take a fairly hardline view of both. A lot of the discussion on the night featured ideas like spring cleans, when the council would offer a once a year collection and invite everyone to dump on that day. But while superficially attractive I wonder how many people would change their lives to fit in around it. Would everyone buy a new bed the week before so they didn’t fly-tip their mattress? Would fridges and washing machines only break down and need replacing to the council’s spring clean schedule? And if they didn’t would (or could) everyone store their rubbish for up to a year?
Others highlighted the cost (which can be waived in some instances) but again, I’m fairly hardline. In most of these cases we happily pay the cost of delivery for something new (which may be included in the price), but some balk at the cost of disposal for the old as if the decision that something is trash somehow removes responsibility for the item.
Finally, some believe the council collects rubbish from certain spots or from certain groups for free. One person said it was unfair home owners and housing association tenants had to pay when council tenants and leaseholders could have their rubbish collected for free. This is not the case, but if you see the council regularly collecting rubbish from a fly-tipping hotspot it’s easy to see how the misconception starts. I have spoken to several who have, totally innocently, fly-tipped because they thought the fly-tipping hotspot was a legitimate collection point.
But if there is confusion and different opinions on fly-tipping, I suspect few would be forgiving of dog fouling. Occasionally being responsible for a push-chair and a child on a scooter I know of some patches I avoid simply because the stress of making sure all the wheels and feet avoid the faecal land mines is just too much.
The fact that there are particular roads and pavements with a problem rather implies it is an issue with a few owners (were all dog owners irresponsible the problem would be more uniform). It also suggests that they and their dogs have developed fairly consistent toilet habits. Yet, even with this intelligence it’s hard to do anything.
The council has traditionally had one of the largest dog teams of any council and at times been responsible for most of the prosecutions in the country, let alone London. The difficulty is that most people tend to behave when being watched, so however big our dog team is they will struggle to catch anyone in the act and, therefore, be unable to take any action.
In both cases the council is largely reliant on education in an attempt to change behaviour; while we will attempt legal action it will only ever get a small minority of offenders. Sadly this is a slow process, even when the overwhelming majority of people are responsible, the impact of the irresponsible few is disproportionate.
Having posted about the behaviour of the crowd at the Shaftesbury Let’s Talk event I have remained silent on the issues raised, in part because there were some I wanted to cover in a bit more detail, in part because – despite being there – I had formed the opinion it would be a harder task that it actually is.
In fact the issues raised, with the exception of Nightingale Square, were largely those we’d expected and those raised with us before the meeting (and, indeed, are raised with us regularly). The Nightingale Square issue was something of a surprise: mainly because it isn’t in the ward, or even the neighbouring ward.
The following is a quick run through of the issues I noted. I hope this is complete and reflects the issues raised as the meeting progressed but are from my notes, rather than the council’s official record, so there may be errors and omissions. On a few I have added some comments, to clarify, expand, respond or simply note something of interest.
Making the Gideon Road estate a residents only area
Dog fouling. I fear I’m going to return to this. As a councillor I’m well below my quota of dog poo posts.
Poor state of repair of pavements
Speeding in the Shaftesbury Park estate. One of the problems of 20mph zones is that they don’t seem to work. I was looking at the results of one scheme elsewhere recently and rather surprised that while the overall speed reduced fractionally, some roads saw some fairly hefty increases in speed. The real problem with these is that the police (nationally) will not enforce them.
Controlled Parking Zone costs
Nightingale Square. A range of issues, from lack of playspace to lack of wi-fi, from a temporary accommodation hostel in Balham. I can’t help but see this as a bit of political showmanship by the organiser since, despite their claims the council had ignored requests for a meeting, a meeting between the council and the hostel to discuss these issues was taking place the next day. They pop up again later.
Access to Nine Elms during the works and the suitability of the last expo venue
Fly-tipping. Something to which I want to return (along with dog fouling). In fact several of the topics below could be included with this as a general waste collection discussion.
Litter after a refuse collection. This was concern about the lack of alignment between refuse collection and street cleaning. This did surprise me since my experience of the new contract, once everyone had adapted to the new collection day, is that it has been very good.
Bulk collection costs
Closure of Cringle Dock
Difficulty of getting housing
Being spied on by MI5
Elsley School development. There were some concerns about the impact of the building work and the effect that an influx of new residents would have once the development was complete. I suspect the latter is related to the suggestion of making the Gideon Road estate residents only.
If there was a disappointment for me it’s that some of these issues could so easily be resolved by us as councillors. While I sometimes wonder what the point of a councillor is, one thing I do know they can do is get those niggling little problems fixed (although I’m powerless when it comes to the massive hole caused by a water leak in my road, which is into the fourth month of waiting repair by Thames Water).
To balance that disappointment I have some satisfaction that the standards of Wandsworth and Wandsworth residents is high. My run the following Saturday morning took me out of Wandsworth, through Lambeth, Southwark, the City of London, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea and while I took some pride that it was only in Wandsworth that I ran without the perils of deep puddles it didn’t do much to warm feet soaked from Lambeth onwards. Of course, people do not get to choose their council, so such a comparison is not relevant to most.
If there are any issues, mentioned here or not, you want to raise with me then get in touch and I’ll do my best to help.
Last night was the Shaftesbury Ward Let’s Talk event. I’ll confess surprise at the turnout, especially as it was not the most clement of evenings, and should perhaps review my previous scepticism to this type of meeting because of the way the meeting self-managed.
I will save most of the topics raised for another post because I want to focus on that self-management aspect.
While I think the turnout was good, that is a relative term. It was good compared to previous meetings, but I think using the maths I applied to our last meeting the attendance was still 0.00% of the ward. When you have small numbers it becomes easy for a small number of people to dominate.
Last night it was a group of residents from the Nightingale Square temporary accommodation hostel. This is a council facility for the homeless in Balham. They came , led by Pastor Des Figueiredo, to complain about issues there – lack of wi-fi, play facilities and poor relations with neighbours were the ones I noted – and that they had not had a meeting with the council to discuss these. As it turns out such a meeting was taking place at the hostel today, which does call into question their attendance last night.
In even criticising them here I’m aware I’m attempting to tread a fine line of concern about their tactics without appearing unsympathetic to what may be legitimate concerns. But they repeatedly tried to interrupt other discussions and cut in before Shaftesbury residents who had been called could speak. They also used the presence of their children, for whom it was late, to justify a platform (this I particularly disliked, since it was little more than emotional blackmail, despite it being their choice to bring children to give “testimony” at a meeting scheduled for 7.30-9.00pm). The more I think back, the more I think it was deeply irresponsible and reflects badly on Des Figueiredo’s motives.
But if I run the risk of appearing unsympathetic in detailing it here, imagine how much harder it is to handle in a live meeting. Do you take an easy approach and let them have their say? Do you take the hard-line and insist it’s a meeting for Shaftesbury residents and local concerns? Both approaches have their pros and cons.
In fact, mob rule took over, and mob rule did a superb job. Every time there was an attempt to interrupt the meeting, local residents reminded them it was a Shaftesbury meeting and moved the business back to local issues. There was remarkably little need for a chairman at all, when it came down to it the crowd were self-chairing.
Even when the Nightingale Square delegation persevered the audience suggested giving them one opportunity to speak and say their piece, since they had come up from Balham, but would then have to allow residents their meeting back.
It was a fine example of the wisdom of the crowd in action, and I’m not sure any individual chairman could have handled the situation as well as a few dozen residents did.
I haven’t fully changed my views on public meetings; I still think they are often used when other forms of communication or consultation would work better. However, having seen and reflected on last night I can’t help feeling that I’ve been deeply unfair in underestimating the ability of an engaged audience to make a public meeting work in spite of its drawbacks.
The Shaftesbury ward ‘Let’s Talk’ event takes place a week today, Thursday, 21 March from 7.30pm at Shaftesbury Park school.
The meetings are an opportunity for residents to come and tell local councillors and council officers what is important to them. There’s no need to register so you can just come along.
Having advertised it I am, as I did last time, going to say that I’m not a great fan of them. They seem somehow dated and not representative of the way I think councils and councillors should do business. Is a public meeting really the sort of place that people want to come to raise their concerns? Or would they prefer more direct contact where there is dialogue and the opportunity to discuss detail without everyone else in the room having to listen in?
The large (or small, in this case) public meeting … is probably the best way to handle a single issue with significant public interest and are useful when the flow of information is largely from the platform to the public. However, in my opinion it just doesn’t work for the sort of session Listening to You [the old branding for the sessions] should be, a dialogue between council and residents, and an opportunity for people to raise specific issues …
But I can’t help reflecting that, with around 30 people attending, it represented 0.00% (rounded to 2 decimal places) of the ward population [and] we are missing some tricks in the way we engage (or don’t engage) with residents and that leaves the council poorer: because if last night was a positive experience with around 0.0025% of the population, imagine what could come from 99.9975% of the population.
But having dealt with my negativity, there is always the opportunity to talk directly with councillors or officers before or after the meeting, and if numbers permit I would hope we follow the pattern that happened last time with a short formal session followed by a much longer, and much more productive, session of mingling, talking about and dealing with the issues and concerns of local residents.
The council have received a licensing application from Johnny Fly, 145 Lavender Hill. They are seeking a licence to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises between 10am and 11:30pm seven days a week, and to provide late night refreshment between 11pm and midnight seven days a week.
It is difficult to know what to make of the application; you don’t often get applications for entirely new premises. When it’s for a licence extension you know what and can take a guess on whether it is good or bad. Sometimes you will have an idea of the type of pub because you will know the pub company (as was the case with Battersea Mess and Music Hall). But I haven’t a clue who or what Johnny Fly are. Google can only suggest a US clothing company, which I suspect wouldn’t need an alcohol licence on Lavender Hill. However, I don’t particularly see that section of Lavender Hill as unsuitable for bars and the hours do not seem at all excessive.
If you want to make a representation you have until 5 March. Representations must relate to the four licensing objectives: