Labour's man Stuart King writes to Putney
Housing, Roehampton regeneration and Wanndsworth Museum all in his first diary...
  Related Articles:
  Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Comment on this story on the

It’s a real pleasure to introduce my first report as Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields.

Some of you may know me from my eight years as a local councillor, when I was a regular contributor to this website. As Leader of Labour’s borough councillors I spent a lot of my time out and about in the constituency, taking up issues throughout Putney, Roehampton and Southfields.

I was born and brought up here so my commitment to and passion for Putney is, I’m sure similar to your own: it goes far beyond narrow party politics. Growing up I lived in flats just behind King George’s Park; I had summer jobs in both the Arndale and Putney High Street, and I turn out on Sundays for a football team in Roehampton. Local roots do matter.

Housing crisis

My first priority is housing: a national problem particularly acute locally.

This is a problem that touches us all. If you rely on council rented housing - the stock of which has been halved by this council - there is little chance of starting your adult life without moving miles away from your family, friends and community. For young professionals trying to get on the first rung of the housing ladder the lack of affordable homes to buy is the problem. The very smallest flat in Putney incurs Stamp Duty nowadays. And even if you’re fortunate enough to own your own home and perhaps have raised your family these problems affect you through your children.

Given the scale of the problem locally, housing is surely an issue your MP should be devoting a huge amount of their time and energy to. It’s not as if the solutions are complex: they’re not: we just need to be bold. This will be a regular theme of my campaign, which I’ll return to in future putneysw15 reports.

Regenerating Roehampton?

On 4 th July I attended the Putney Society meeting on the plans to redevelop the centre of the Alton Estate in Roehampton.

A major demand of local residents is that any of them displaced by the redevelopment will have a guaranteed right of return. Over 650 local people have signed a petition demanding such guarantees because they suspect the council’s motives are to replace local rented homes with private accommodation they will be excluded from. I stand 100% behind residents on this.

There were many other issues raised and as the timeframe for these plans extends beyond 2013 I’ll have plenty of chances to talk more about them. But my real concern is that without leadership residents face the prospect of little – if anything – actually coming of this. Roehampton doesn’t deserve to be let down again.

Wandsworth Museum

The job of an MP is not just to deal with national issues – it’s also their responsibility to stand up loudly for the community on local issues like the closure of Wandsworth Museum. Every one of us who values the Museum is, I am sure, immensely grateful to the Hintze Foundation for their £2million lifeline. It had become clear that despite over 22,000 people petitioning to save it, the Council was determined to close it. Even with this infusion of outside cash the Museum’s future is not assured. It makes no sense to waste almost £2million just playing musical chairs with the Museum and West Hill Library when both do perfectly good jobs where they are now.

The campaign to save the Museum has been magnificent: backed by supporters of all parties and none, which is as it should be. But this debacle is the perfect answer to the question “why bother voting: you’re all the same”. We’re not. Your vote does have consequences: good and bad, locally and nationally.

I’ve been up to much more over the past month but you’ll have to wait for my next report for more. In the meantime, my website is up and running, where I talk about these and other local issues in more detail. It’d be great if you could find the time to visit: the address is

With best wishes



July 9, 2007