|Labour's man Stuart King writes to Putney|
outlining his campaigns for Putney
Let me start by wishing a happy new year to all putneysw15 readers.
Politically, 2008 – or at least the first half of it – is going to increasingly focus on the London Mayoral and Assembly elections which take place on 1 st May. Labour’s candidate for Mayor is of course Ken Livingstone, while our assembly candidate locally is Councillor Leonie Cooper, Deputy Leader of Labour’s councillors in Wandsworth. I’ve been writing about some of the issues – especially policing – facing us as Londoners in these elections on my website and will do so some more in my forthcoming reports here.
The New Year saw the closure of Wandsworth Museum by the Conservative-run council. I’m not sure Putney’s Conservative MP has mentioned this issue once and I still find that extraordinary, and extremely disappointing. Instead of siding with the people of Putney who have repeatedly and vociferously articulated the case for retaining the museum as it was, Justine Greening chose to side with her Conservative colleagues on the council.
As well as serving in the national Parliament, an MP is also the elected representative for a local constituency, and the politician local residents will look to for assistance on all matters affecting them – local and national. That is why it is so disappointing that Justine Greening has failed to represent her constituents’ interests and stand up to Wandsworth Council on this issue.
We’re now in the third year of my campaign to save Putney High Street to invest some pride in our town centre. If anyone doubted the need for this campaign, the council’s sorry excuse for Christmas decorations (again) gave it new impetus. The lack of pride shown by the council in our town centre is encapsulated in the pathetic efforts they make to bring Christmas cheer to the area and is pitiful compared to the efforts made by neighbouring boroughs.
Unfortunately, the New Year brought news that alongside Putney High Street, we need to fight to save Southside’s local shops as well. The management of the shopping centre formerly known as the Arndale have served notice on most of the small, family-run businesses that have been there generations to vacate so that they can do to Southside what the Council’s done to Putney High Street: pile in the bland brand-name stores and turn it into yet another clone shopping centre.
My mum worked in the Arndale for thirty years and I had summer jobs there during my teens, so the diversity that has existed in Southside for generations is an issue close to my heart. The council says it will help evicted businesses find alternative premises, but realistically there is nowhere locally that they can relocate to, and the council has now admitted as much. If you’d like to join my campaign to save Southside’s local shops, you can add your name to my online petition here.
That’s enough winter doom-and-gloom: we did get some good news over the holidays that Wandsworth is getting an above-inflation increase in NHS cash – and that this will go on the public’s priorities such as cleaner hospitals and extended GP opening hours. The NHS in Putney has done well with Labour: Queen Mary’s Hospital rebuilt and reopened; a new clinic in Southfields, more doctors, nurses and dentists, and 2008 will see work begin at the old Putney Hospital site.
The other good news we got in the New Year was that crime continues to fall in Putney. Crime in all six Putney wards is significantly below the London average and our forty Community Support Officers are building a strong presence on the streets. Since September I’ve been analysing the monthly crime figures for each of our wards – click here for the latest figures. I’ll talk more about policing in my next report.
I’m sure 2008 will be an action-packed and eventful year. I’ll continue getting out and about around the constituency – you can keep track of my progress here – and in the meantime, if you’d like to get in touch, seek my help or pass on your ideas, feedback or concerns please visit my website – www.stuartking.net – or better still complete my residents’ survey.
Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Putney