Councillor Lister writes to Putney

Microchipping, high speed rail, the High Street and river travel


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It's great that the RSPCA has given its backing to the council's new micro-chipping scheme for dogs on the borough's housing estates.

It's the first large-scale scheme of its kind in the country and the charity believes it's an idea whose time has come.

Last year the Government turned down Wandsworth's request for tougher controls on who can own a dog. So many of the problems are caused by young owners who see their dog as a status symbol rather than a pet.

Now we're going ahead with our own scheme which will mean dog wardens can move quickly in cases where dogs have been causing nuisance. It will also be a great help in reuniting lost dogs with their owners.

We will be working with the RSPCA when we roll out the scheme to housing estates later this year. Many responsible dog owners already have their animals chipped and will welcome the new service which will be free to tenants and leaseholders.

There's bound to be a hard core who try to avoid the scheme but we are confident of being able to track them down. It's essential if the scheme is to achieve its main purpose of tackling anti-social behaviour on estates.Another area where the Government's inaction continues to amaze me is investment in a high speed rail network. Since I launched our new high-speed rail blueprint for the UK on Monday I've been inundated with calls from everywhere from Glasgow to Cardiff and Nottingham to Manchester.

What people are saying is why can't we have the same kind of super-fast trains they have in France and Spain. It could cut flights to Heathrow by about a third as people turned away from domestic and short haul flights. The council is a leading member of the 2M Group which published the new vision. We have sent a copy to Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly who seems unaware that there really are alternatives to a policy of uncontrolled expansion at Heathrow.

Good news on Putney High Street where there are plans for new paving to follow the first phase of improvements completed last summer. The main areas to benefit would be the pavements outside the Exchange running down into Lower Richmond Road as well as sections in Lacy Road and outside St Mary's Church. There are also measures in the pipeline to improve conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and bus users and an initiative to remove street clutter.

The Mayor of London came to Putney Pier this week to take the river taxi up to Blackfriars. Boris mingled with the many local commuters who have switched to this stress-free from of public transport. Putney councillor Rosemary Torrington took the opportunity to press the case for investment in an expanded service which could run throughout the day. The council also wants direct services to Canary Wharf and fully integrated Oyster card ticketing. In an increasingly crowded city it really does make sense to make better use of the river.

Edward Lister

July 25, 2008

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