Barnes Station, Potholes & Elliott School

Labour's man Stuart King writes to Putney

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Improvements to Barnes station
In March I surveyed residents in the area closest to Barnes Station about a number of local concerns that had been raised with me.

Anyone familiar with Barnes Station will know only too well the dire facilities available for passengers waiting at the bus stop on Rocks Lane: hardly any space, no shelter, poor, potholed or non-existent paths away from the station and a litter strewn embankment.

The response to that survey was fantastic. As a result I raised a whole host of issues with South West Trains, who manage the station itself, and Richmond Council, who are responsible for the surrounding area.

70% of respondents to my survey told me they don’t feel safe at the station in the evenings, and 76% saying that having the ticket office open makes them feel safer. So The Labour Government’s decision last month to reject plans by SWT to close the ticket office at Barnes Station for much longer than it is already closed, was absolutely the right thing to do.

An even larger percentage: 88% backed my call for improved facilities for those waiting to catch buses at the Rocks Lane bridge over the station. That thumping mandate helped me win a pledge from Richmond Council to work with Transport for London on what they call “a large scheme” including “significant improvements to the footways and bus stop waiting areas.”

Richmond Council is also taking advantage of the Labour Government’s “Community Payback” scheme – of which I am a big supporter. Those convicted of more minor offences (such as vandalism or criminal damage), but who pose no threat to the public, will be made to keep the embankment clear of litter from now on.

And the Council has promised to repair the horribly potholed roads in the area – not least Gipsy’s Lane and Queen’s Ride.

You can read more about the issues in a special edition of The Putney Paper that I have produced for the area consulted in March.

Is Putney the Pothole capital of London?
I ran a highly successful campaign last year that forced Wandsworth Council to improve its programme to repair potholes in the borough. I eased up on that campaign once it became clear the council was responding. However, a frankly woeful response to the potholes caused by February’s extreme weather conditions, has forced me to dig out my my camera and pushbike and re-start my road-by-road “name and shame” campaign.

I accept that the damage to local roads was made dramatically worse by the harsh weather earlier this year, but it does go to show what happens when a Conservative administration cuts a crucial budget – highway maintenance – by one third. It’s worth letting me know about your pothole nightmares, because curiously enough, shortly after examples appear on my website they mysteriously get fixed – as residents of Hazlewell Road have just discovered to their benefit.

Putney has a Conservative MP, 18 Conservative Councillors, a Conservative London Assembly member and a Conservative Mayor for London, and yet it takes the Labour parliamentary candidate to get the council to fix their potholes!

Elliott school
The Wandsworth Guardian recently reported that Elliott school had failed its most recent Ofsted inspection and was going to be placed on Specials Measures. Yesterday the council announced some of its own improvement plans for the school, including a new leadership team and structure.

I’ve refrained from commenting on the situation at Elliott School, although I am extremely concerned by it. The Ofsted report is due to be published within a fortnight and until then I intend to comment no further, beyond to express my opinion that there is an even greater need now for the council to bring forward the £35m redevelopment of the school that is being funded by the Government.

Although the problems with Elliott go far deeper than just an unsuitable learning environment, I’m a firm believer that good facilities drive high standards and the lack of investment in Elliott since the Conservatives inherited responsibility for the school from ILEA back in 1990 has been scandalous.

Elliott is not in the first tranche of the latest phase of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme – the Labour Government’s school regeneration scheme because the Conservative Council did not want it to be. I believe it should be. I’ve been in discussion in recent weeks with senior civil servants at the Government’s Schools Department, and Wandsworth’s BSF Programme Director to impress upon them the importance of Elliott to Putney, and the importance of this work to Elliott.

With the Euro elections taking place on 4 th June I’m leading my campaign team in a hectic schedule of getting out and about around Putney, Roehampton and Southfields. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to call on you during the campaign, but if not you can as ever get in touch with me by writing to me at 35 Felsham Road, London SW15 1AY, phoning 020 8788 8961, emailing me or via my website.

May 1, 2009