Moving on after 35 years as a Putney Councillor
As most people will know by now I am standing down from Wandsworth Council to take up the position of Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor at City Hall.
It will be a tremendous wrench to leave as I have served as a councillor in the Putney constituency for 35 years – 33 of them in Thamesfield ward which runs from Point Pleasant in Wandsworth to Putney Common.
Since 1992 I have been Leader of the Council. That carries responsibility for the whole of the borough including Battersea, Balham, Wandsworth, Tooting and Roehampton – but Putney has always been a special place for me.
We value our quality of life here so I have been especially proud of the way our local primary schools have progressed to become some of the very best in London. We also like a good campaign so I was delighted to have played my part in building the London-wide alliance that defeated the last Government’s Heathrow expansion plans. We are currently battling with Thames Water to head off their plans for Barn Elms – another threat to our much-cherished Putney environment.
We have seen major changes in recent years, particularly on the riverfront where the new developments at Putney Wharf and Riverside Quarter have transformed former industrial areas. Not all of these were popular at the time but they have brought life to previously closed-off parts of the riverside and, in creating new places to live, have enabled us to welcome many new residents to our community.
Of course Wandsworth is known throughout the country for its low taxes and high quality services. Throughout my period as leader our local tax bill has been the lowest average in the UK. We never set out to be the very lowest – but if we can keep taxes affordable that benefits the whole community.
My new job prevents me from remaining as councillor. If there had been any way in which I could have carried on serving the people of Putney in the capacity I have done for three decades and more, I would certainly not be leaving.
It does of course mean there will be a by-election in Thamesfield ward and the chance for a new councillor to take on the immensely rewarding job of representing local people at the town hall, working hard on their behalf and sticking up for their interests.
I will miss the buzz of Putney and the very keen interest which local people take in what goes on around them. My new job working alongside the Mayor of London will take me to all parts of the capital but I can promise the people of Putney that their interests will always be mine. We demand the best in Putney – it’s a principle I will take with me wherever I go.
May 16, 2011