There are many reasons the Soviet comparison is wrong, but an interesting piece: This Olympics hysteria shows that Britain has turned Soviet

Throughout the cold war, Soviet bloc nations used sport as a proxy for economic success. With the connivance of the International Olympic Committee, they turned what used to be an amateur sport into the equivalent of a national defence force, hurling money and status at their athletes

There might be something to that view, but if the Olympics really are a modern equivalent of bread and circuses is that actually a bad thing? There are many worse ways to build a sense of national pride.

The Olympic rings on Tower Bridge
Not related to the torch or Tooting Common, but since this is my photo I can use it without incurring the wrath of the Olympic police

The council has published details of how to get tickets for the Olympic Torch relay event that Wandsworth is hosting on 23 July on Tooting Common.

The event will be (free) ticket only and the tickets will be issued on a first-come first-served basis at Battersea, Balham, Putney, Tooting or Wandsworth libraries between 7.30 and 8.30pm on Wednesday 11 July Monday 16 July. You will need some proof that you are a Wandsworth resident to get a ticket (such as a council tax bill).

Full details are available on the council’s website.

Undoubtedly many will be unhappy about the way tickets are issued. Unfortunately it is out of the council’s control. It seems ticketing was a late requirement by the Metropolitan Police, and the council have had to quickly find a way to ensure its allocation is distributed to Wandsworth residents in sufficient time.

If recent experience with things like the change in refuse collection days is anything to go by, we know that it’s impossible for the council to get the message to everyone (that was featured in Brightside, on the website and in council tax bills and still many said they knew nothing about the change), so if you know anyone who is thinking of, or might be interested in, attending the evening celebration please let them know about the ticketing scheme.

Updated 6 July: The arrangements for ticket distribution have been changed. The council’s website is clearly the definitive source for this information, and I will update this once I see that page has been refreshed and the new information put into the public domain.

Final update: The council have updated their page, and I’ve updated this accordingly.

This is my first weekly report-back on the blog.  It is currently a trial, and you can read some of my thoughts about it in a blog-post I wrote before commencing the reports.  It is not intended to be, nor can it be, an exhaustive report of what I have been doing during the week as a councillor, above all, the nature of a councillor’s work means a lot of the work done for ward residents remains confidential. It is very much a selected highlights of the week.

Neighbourhood Watch Strategy
Much of the start of the week was taken up with final preparations for the Neighbourhood Watch strategy – which combined with an unsettled baby – managed to dominate much of the bank-holiday weekend.  I’m rather proud of Neighbourhood Watch in Wandsworth, which has been a key partner in making Wandsworth inner London’s safest borough.  The new strategy will be launched next week, and enhances the role of Neighbourhood Watch as well as, for the first time, setting out what Watches, the council, police and other partners can expect from each other to help make Wandsworth even safer.

Meeting with Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce
Along with the Leader of the Council I regularly meet with the Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce to chat about issues in the borough. Perhaps unsurprisingly the biggest topic of discussion was the recession. I have tended towards the bearish when discussing the recession – thinking it will be long and hard. However, a lot of the anecdotal evidence I’ve heard suggests the recession is focussed on the retail sector and while property and construction are showing signs of recovery the retail sector is going to be struggling for some time to come. What was pleasing, however, is that Wandsworth’s businesses still seem fairly optimistic about the future.

CompeteFor London 2012 event
On Thursday I attended and said a few words at a CompeteFor event in Wandsworth. Almost as evidence of business confidence in Wandsworth around 150 businesses attended the event in Wandsworth Town Hall to hear how they could bid for work associated with the 2012 Olympics. When you often assume businesses are struggling to think what they will be doing for the next three months, it was great to see businesses keen to bid for work for the next three years and beyond. If you are a business interested in bidding for Olympic related work then you should visit the official Olympic site at london2012.com/business and CompeteFor.com which is handling the online bidding process.

Campaigning
One of the drawbacks of starting these reports now is that the council tends slow during summer, while we don’t have a ‘recess’ as such there a few formal meetings over summer. In addition, the council enters a purdah during election campaigns which means many meetings and events have to be cancelled. And, of course, that gap gets filled by campaigning by those of us unfortunate enough to be political animals. When I’ve not been at the town hall this week I’ve been on the doorstep (maybe even your’s). It has been an interesting campaign, perhaps for the wrong reasons with the expenses scandal. I hope to find time to post some reflections on it next week.