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.

With the year drawing to a close, and hopefully the UK’s longest and deepest recession with it, I’ve spent a little time looking at how Wandsworth has coped.

I’ve repeatedly said that while Wandsworth isn’t immune to the effects of recession it is better placed than most to weather it.

The graphs below are various comparisons of Jobseekers Allowance claims. This isn’t a measure of unemployment (those figures aren’t produced for some months) since people can be unemployed without claiming JSA. And it isn’t the complete story; it ignores the take-up of other benefits and things like business failures or high street vacancies (Wandsworth has actually seen little change in these rates during the recession).

However, JSA can be a good indicator. So…

These graphs consider the period from January 2008 until October 2009, the represent (where appropriate) the highest rate in red, the lowest rate in green and Wandsworth in blue.

First up is a straight comparison between Wandsworth and the national rate of claims.

Wandsworth and national rate of JSA claims Jan 08 - Oct 09

A good story for Wandsworth. Overall the gap between the lines has increased. In January Wandsworth’s rate was 0.4% below the national rate, it’s now 0.8% – overall JSA claims have risen less here than nationally, there would be about 800 more people signing on if we’d followed the national trend.

However, the past few months seems to show the national figure on a plateau, while Wandsworth has still increased a little. This may be because people who have lost their jobs in Wandsworth (which has a high proportion of people working in the financial sector) have been living off their own means before signing on, but that is just conjecture, the figures will need watching for a few months to see if the trend continues.

Next is a comparison between Wandsworth and the highest and lowest inner London borough rates.

Wandsworth and the highest and lowest inner London borough JSA claim rates - Jan 08 - Oct 09

Again, I think a good story. Wandsworth (the blue line) has the second lowest rate (Kensington and Chelsea, the green line). While our performance against them has deteroriated, we’ve seen the gap between us and the worst affected borough open from a 3% to a 3.5% difference so, proportionately, we’ve not been hit as hard as other inner London areas. And having the second lowest rate after Kensington and Chelsea is no cause for shame.

Finally, a comparison within the borough. This needs a slight caveat; the rates are calculated against smaller populations (the difference between thousands in a ward compared to 100,000 to 200,000 in most boroughs) so the rates can fluctuate more. However, over the period it shows a fairly clear pattern.

Wandsworth lowest and highest ward JSA rates Jan 08 - Oct 09

The story here is not so good. While we haven’t been as badly affected as some parts of the country those differences are reflected within Wandsworth. Ideally the rate of change would be the same, indicating a borough that is relatively cohesive. However, the gap between highest rate (Latchmere, in Battersea) and bottom (Thamesfield, in Putney) has widened from 3.5% to 4.4%. This is not an ideal situation and suggests some parts of the borough, because of poor transport links, access to employment opportunities or education and training are suffering more than than other parts. Exactly why things like the Employment and Skills Partnership are needed to target public resources to address those imbalances.

Overall, I think my repeated comment that Wandsworth has not been hit as hard as elsewhere has been true. And even Wandsworth’s worse wards haven’t been affected as badly as, say, Tower Hamlets or Hackney. But it does bring home that just performing better than elsewhere is rarely a cause for complacency.

Something of a retread post, but if you haven’t already there are still a few days left to register a vote for one of your local parks and help it win funding from the Mayor who is investing £6 million into popular London parks.

Forty-seven parks across London have been shortlisted and the ten with the most votes will receive some of the funding for improvements.

Two of the shortlisted parks are in Wandsworth, so please considering voting for one of them. It can be done by text or online.

The two parks are:

King George’s Park (Wandsworth)
You can vote for King George’s by:
texting PARKS SW18 3HS to 62967
using the voting form on Help a London Park.

Latchmere Recreation Ground (Battersea)
You can vote for Latchmere by:
texting PARKS SW11 5AD to 62967
using the voting form on Help a London Park.

Texts will cost 10p, in addition to any charge you pay to your network and voting ends on 30 January. You can find out more details from Wandsworth council’s parks vote page or the GLA’s Help a London Park.

Clapham Junction  Clapham Junction

One Clapham Junction development I am allowed to talk about are the council’s plans to improve the area around the road junction.

Anyone who knows the area will know the junction of Lavender Hill, St John’s Hill, St John’s Road and Falcon Road is something of a mess. Visually, it’s full of clutter, and it just doesn’t work that well as a junction for traffic or pedestrians.

Tonight’s Planning and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee will, hopefully, be passing a report to make a start on improvements.

A decluttered Clapham Junction?
A decluttered Clapham Junction?

The overall scheme, which has been in development since 2007, it too expensive for the council to undertake alone, but elements of it can be done. The suggestion is to look at the ‘traffic management’ since, by improving the way vehicles move through the junction it will improve the quality for all users, including pedestrians – and most importantly improve safety.

Drivers will get a better junction to traverse, and some may be able to avoid it altogether, with a right turn now being allowed onto Falcon Lane (past Asda). Pedestrians will benefit from wider pavements and better crossings. And everyone will benefit from a visual improvement, with a much cleaner and more attractive gateway to one of our busiest town centres.

The Mayor of London is about to invest £6 million into some of London’s parks: but which parks will be decided by a public vote.

In the best tradition of reality competitions, 47 parks across London have been shortlisted and the ten with the most votes will receive some of the funding for improvements.

Two of the shortlisted parks are in Wandsworth, so please considering voting for one of them. It can be done by text or online.

The two parks are:

King George’s Park (Wandsworth)
You can vote for King George’s by:
texting PARKS SW18 3HS to 62967
using the voting form on Help a London Park.

Latchmere Recreation Ground (Battersea)
You can vote for Latchmere by:
texting PARKS SW11 5AD to 62967
using the voting form on Help a London Park.

Texts will cost 10p, in addition to any charge you pay to your network and voting ends on 30 January. You can find out more details from Wandsworth council’s parks vote page or the GLA’s Help a London Park.