Labour talk to Putney & Roehampton

this week Adam Gray continues his campaign to "Save our High Street"


Adam Gray, a regular contributor to the forum on this site, lives in Roehampton and was a councillor for 8 years, when he was responsible for environmental, planning and transport issues in Hammersmith & Fulham.  He's lived all his life in Fulham or Putney - a pupil at Elliott School in the 1980s.

Labour's Organiser for Wandsworth for four years and a member of the Putney and Fulham Societies, Adam is now Secretary of the Local Government Committee responsible for  Labour's 2006 council election campaign

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Cllr Stuart King writes on Roehampton Lane, Putney High Street & more...

Labour in Wandsworth

I hope Administration Councillors – who seem in a state of denial about the decline of Putney High Street - have been watching this week’s excellent Channel 4 series “Demolition” and in particular Tuesday’s programme about troublesome town centres.

No one suggests that Putney is even vaguely comparable to the disaster that is Cumbernauld town centre – an elevated concrete jungle that got the most complaints when Channel 4 sought nominations. But our High Street is far from perfect despite the absurd caricatures the Conservatives sling at anyone who states the blindingly obvious.

Since our “Save Our High Street” campaign began in October, barely a week’s gone by when the Council hasn’t spun out a press release (the most recent on Tuesday) or wheeled out a councillor to explain how wrong we’ve all got things; or claimed falsely that on the one hand that we’ve got nothing positive to say and yet on the other dismissing our suggestions to make Putney better. Curious how they didn’t have much to say about the High Street before we launched our campaign, isn’t it?

I view our disagreement as between the few who are satisfied with the way things are (and who all seem to be seeking election as Conservative candidates in May…), and the rest of us who believe Putney High Street can be better. If the Administration genuinely thinks everything’s peachy, it’s a perfectly honourable disagreement which could surely be discussed without need for their childish outbursts that any criticism will devastate High Street trade. What absurd nonsense – why are the Conservatives so insecure in their assertions that the town centre’s a utopia of perfection after 27 years in power and holding every single Putney council seat?

I suspect the reason is that in private the Tories agree with us but fear it will be an admission of failure to say so publicly. I don’t think they’d be reacting the way they are if they really believed their own hype: wouldn’t they just ignore it in that case?

So those of us who think things can be better are staying put. It’s Christmas, so to all Putney councillors I say: come out, come out, wherever you are and work with us to do what’s best for the High Street. We won’t hold it against you: in fact we’ll be pleasantly surprised to have your help and influence. Politics is about making a difference: we don’t always have to say: “there’s nothing we can do”.

In the New Year Labour will step up this campaign – printing our survey in our Putney newspaper and handing out petition cards in the High Street to sign and send back to us freepost. If you share our concerns, please tell us – regardless of whether you agree with every one of our suggestions. The Administration seems to be under the misapprehension that the widespread concern throughout Putney about the decline of the High Street is nothing but Labour electioneering spin. It’s up to you to disprove that.

Do YOU think our concerns about the High Street are baseless, a mirage, a delusion? If not, make sure everyone knows it: while you’re recovering from the holiday excesses, why not fill in our survey online: just go to

In the Spring, we’ll present our findings, so the more responses we get the more impact they’ll have. And if the Conservative Administration doesn’t listen to us then force them to take note on Thursday 4th May next year: Council Election polling day. It’s only nineteen weeks away: Nineteen weeks to help us Save Putney High Street.

Have a great Christmas and New Year!

December 22, 2005