Councillor Lister writes to Putney

night flights update, fighting drugs, Oyster cards and South West Trains....


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Council Tax 2006

Labour response to tax freeze

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Last week’s historic vote by the House of Lords to retain the movements limit on early morning flights into Heathrow will have cheered bleary-eyed residents who struggle to get back to sleep when these 747s start landing over Putney at 4.30am

Wandsworth had worked closely with Windsor and Hounslow councils to make sure peers appreciated the weakness of the Government’s case for abandoning this protection.

Our attention turns now to the Commons as ministers will doubtless try to reinstate the offending measure when the Bill returns to the lower house.

That will put the pressure on MPs who represent people under flightpaths to speak out in defence of their right to a decent night’s sleep.

With arrivals in the early hours waking up people as far to the east as Greenwich this is an issue that will test many London Labour MPs who will be under pressure to vote with the Government.

One of the big crime-busting successes of the last year has been the council-police partnership to tackle illegal drug misuse under the Operation Shield banner.

The two organisations have worked together to collect intelligence and mount operations.

Now following the conviction of a Roehampton tenant for possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply, the council has won a court order to confiscate his home.

It means when this drug dealer comes out of prison he won’t be able to return to his old flat – and nor will the council be under any duty to find him another one. That’s good news for estate residents everywhere and proof that messing with drugs can cost you both your liberty and your home.

The council’s campaign to get Oyster pre-pay on local rail services is now spreading across south London. With support from the local Guardian newspaper I have asked councils in Croydon, Merton, Kingston and Sutton to back our initiative.

It’s a logical step because we all represent areas which are poorly served by Tube links while the five councils are also partners in an environmental awards scheme launched this year by the newspaper.

Meanwhile the emails continue to flood in on the subject from local residents here in Wandsworth. In addition to the ticketing issue, what crops up time and again is the concern over standards at local stations.

This week South West Trains come in for some much deserved criticism for the state of Putney station. One local commuter complains of exits and entrances that cannot cater for the number of people using the station, ticket machines that rarely work and a dingy and grimy station appearance.

For a train operator coming towards the end of its franchise there is no incentive currently to either accept a worthwhile innovation like pre-pay or spend money improving station premises. Until we have a transport minister who will insist on high customer service standards throughout the life of the contract, getting action from the train operators will continue to be an uphill task.

Edward Lister

March 15, 2006

Edward Lister is the Leader of Wandsworth Council and a member for Putney's Thamesfield ward.