While the complaints leading up to and during the event were certainly noticed by the council and I wondered if the town hall press office’s silence indicated a shift in opinion was coming (the press office is essentially part of the leader’s office, so a good indication of what’s going on) that silence was broken last Friday.
The timing of the press release is important. It was already out-of-date, detailing an event that was a week old, but was released the the day after the Conservative group meeting (a private meeting of Conservative councillors to which the party organiser and chief activists are also invited) which might imply the decision to try for another four years has been taken.
If the council is to reverse that decision, then public pressure has to be applied now, and not just when the park is disrupted in years to come. Friday’s meeting may be the start of that.
I’m currently putting the finishing touches to my presentation for tonight’s public meeting on our community safety priorities for the year.
I’m told that, from the acceptances we’ve received so far, the venue is nearing capacity and we may have to open up the public gallery as an overflow!
However, if you are interested in finding out and influencing what the council, police, probation service and other partners have as their priorities for the year then come along tonight, we should be able to squeeze you in!
The annual ‘Face the Public’ meeting is being held in the Council Chamber at the Town Hall on Wandsworth High Street. It starts at 6pm and should last no longer than 90 minutes.
UPDATE: The venue has now been moved. The meeting will be in the Civic Suite, still on Wandsworth High Street. Police Cadets are helping with the organisation and will be able to point you in the right direction.
One of the things the council, along with the police and other partners, have been working on recently has been the strategic priorities. Part of this process is a public meeting, where we present the ‘draft’ priorities and members of the public can let us know what they think and their concerns.
The ‘Face the Public’ meeting is being held at 6pm on Thursday, 19 February, in the council chamber at the Town Hall. The meeting should last no longer than 90 minutes.
If you are interested in your borough, and what is done to make it safer, come along and talk to us.
Many may find it odd that this blog doesn’t contain a single mention of the Clapham Junction planning application, often referred to as the ‘twin towers’. How can a councillor whose ward is right next to the area concerned not say a word about one of the biggest planning applications Wandsworth (and even London) has seen?
The simple answer is that I can’t say a word about it. Nada, nothing, zilch.
However, since I have had several emails about the scheme, I thought it might be worth setting out rules on this, since they don’t just affect me, but affect all councillors. I must stress that nothing here should be interpreted as offering any opinion, either positive or negative, on the Clapham Junction planning application – nor, indeed, on any other application, past, present or future.
The application process
A common question is ‘how can the council even consider this application?’ The answer is that we have to consider every valid planning application and does not mean it is being viewed favourably or unfavourably. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the council has received a valid application.
This applies regardless of the size, so if you wanted to extend your house and made a proper application it has to go through the full consideration process. If someone wants to build some towers, it has to go through the full consideration process.
A ‘tall buildings’ policy?
The council does not have a blanket tall buildings policy, instead the council considers what is appropriate for each area. There are some very good reasons for this.
First, appropriate height is going to be different from area to area. A tall office block might not look out of place on Upper Richmond Road, which already has several office buildings. It would look downright unsightly in an area of two-storey houses.
Second, setting an arbitrary limit would probably just encourage developers to build to that limit. If we set a height of 12 storeys I suspect pretty much every application would be 12 storeys as developers strive to maximise profits.
And you can’t say anything because…?
The reason councillors cannot comment on applications is something called ‘pre-determination’. If I were to express a view, it could be said that I had already made up my mind without regard to the merits or otherwise of an application. This would leave any decision open to legal challenge.
Instead, councillors have to demonstrate they approached the decision with an open mind and considered the application and representations fairly. This is especially the case with a major planning application that might end up being discussed at a full council meeting.
Personally, I think the rules on pre-determination are a nonsense, since it effectively bars elected representatives from representing their residents in cases like this. However, since they do exist I feel my role as a councillor is best served by retaining my right to vote than by commenting before the decision process has fully begun.
The public meeting of the Shaftesbury Safer Neighbourhood Team meeting is tonight at 7pm at Asda on Lavender Hill. Asda kindly lend their meeting room for this, and there will be someone from the police to point you in the right direction.
This meeting is open to any resident of Shaftesbury Ward (if you aren’t sure which ward you live in the council has a postcode checker) and gives you the chance to meet your local SNT, hear what they have been doing and raise any issues you want. Unfortunately it’s like all three councillors will be unable to attend because of other commitments, but we work closely with the SNT to deal with any issues members of the public raise.
It you can make it along then it’s well worth attending – the meetings are well run and usually last no longer than an hour.
The council is currently reviewing all the borough’s conservation areas and it’s now the turn of the Shaftesbury Park Estate Conservation Area which covers a large part of Shaftesbury ward.
I should declare an interest because I live on the Shaftesbury Park Estate, and what attracted me was the unique nature of the area – which is largely due to the conservation area.
If you live on the estate it’s well worth contributing your views to how the estate should develop in the future. There’s a public meeting scheduled for Thursday 11 December (which I unfortunately can’t attend) at 7pm in Shaftesbury Park School or you can email your comments to Justine Page (firstname.lastname@example.org).
My personal bug bear are satellite dishes on the fronts of houses (rather than above the gutters or on the chimneys where they are much less obtrusive) which seem totally out of place on the front of Victorian terraces – although again I must declare an interest because I do have dish, even if it’s largely out of sight on the roof.