Who Wants to be MP for Putney, Roehampton & Southfields?

Three prospective parliamentary candidates give us their views

With a general election rumoured to be just a few months away, we asked the parliamentary candidates for the seat of Putney & Roehampton from the three main parties to tell us what they thought the most important issues are for Putney & Roehampton and how they would propose to resolve them if they were elected to be our next MP. Here is what they said:

Justine Greening

Stuart King



James Sandbach
Liberal Democrat

As MP alongside other residents I've campaigned against the current government's plans for Heathrow expansion and Richmond Park car park charges.  A Conservative government will ditch both plans, so I'm delighted that our local community has a chance at the ballot box to get a new government that will listen to them.

I will continue to make sure I focus on crime issues, working with our local police, so that our streets are safe.  In the next year I will work to make sure we do not lose our Putney Post Office facilities in central Putney after all the other post office closures.
My other three specific local issues I would focus on that residents tell me are important to them are:
Transport - Most residents rely on public transport to get to work - I do too.  We must have the investment in our new tube trains and new signalling on the District Line.  It will mean a dramatic increase in capacity and airconditioned tubes, so a much better service. 

We also need to finally see the extra train carriages and disused Waterloo platforms brought into use that will relieve overcrowding on the South West Trains service. 

I meet and am in contact regularly with TfL, London Underground and South West Trains management to press for improvements to the service.  As MP I've successfully lobbied for more peak hour tube trains, Southfields Station modernised with a lift and more direct tubes into the City. 

We also had a promise to make Putney Station accessible which has not been delivered on by Ministers but should be and I will press to make that happen too.
Healthcare - The Putney Hospital site has been disused for a decade.  It is a case study in NHS mismanagement under the current government.  We need that site finally redeveloped for our community, and an NHS where staff can focus on patients and our community healthcare needs, instead up upward reported targets.  

I will be continuing to challenge local NHS managers to make sure our GPs get a new site in Putney so that as local residents we have GP surgeries on our doorstep.  I am pressing for the pan-London healthcare changes which could see Accident and Emergency, and maternity wards closed or downgraded across London, to be stopped unless local residents are properly involved in the decisions.
Roehampton Regeneration - I want to see Roehampton with better facilities, extra jobs and extra housing for our community. 

As MP I have lobbied Ministers to include Roehampton in the Deprived Area Fund, but not a single penny of regeneration funds have come from Whitehall to Roehampton.  Roehampton has not been a priority for the current government but should be. 

I will work with Ministers, our local authority and across government to make sure that we have the investment and incentives, and support for residents to see Roehampton get the improvements it deserves.

About me

I was born here in Wandsworth in 1970. My dad was a dustman, my mum worked in Boots in the Arndale Centre in Wandsworth and my Nan worked in the kitchens at Shell in Point Pleasant. I’m married to Natalie, a primary school teacher, and work for a conference and training company in central London. I have never been employed as a “professional” politician and have worked in the private sector since 1997.

For eight years I was a Wandsworth councillor, representing local interests in the town hall. I have also been active in the local community since well before I became Labour’s candidate in 2007: I am a governor at Allfarthing school, where my sister and I went to school (as did our Mum), and I still play for a Sunday League football team based at the Richardson Evans playing fields in Putney Vale.

I hope you will take my 15 years of political and community activity in our borough as a sign of my commitment to serving the interests of local people. Furthermore, my service as a Labour councillor on true blue Tory Wandsworth council, plus a lifetime’s committed support of QPR should prove that I am unperturbed by underdog status!

You can read a more detailed biography for me on my website.

My Local Priorities
My priorities if elected as your MP – my plan for Putney - will be the priorities I’ve been campaigning on for years.

CRIME - Although Putney is one of the very safest parts of London in which to live, and despite police numbers being considerably higher than they were when labour was first elected and crime being far lower – and the two are directly linked – we still have problems that need to be tackled.

cutting street crime in Putney town centre
I want town centre wardens brought to the high street so that the police can tackle crime in central Putney, where it’s at its highest

cutting violent crime in Roehampton
including more facilities for teenagers and a clamp down on domestic violence, because violent crime is the worst crime there is

far tougher action on criminal damage
zero tolerance for vandalism and graffiti and putting those who damage our area to work fixing it

protecting our safer neighbourhood police
the big success of Labour police policy, I’ll fight to keep funding them

confidence in crime figures
unlike Putney Conservatives, I’ll never lie about crime in Putney. I’ll only ever cite publicly available, Metropolitan Police crime figures.

TRANSPORT - I’m a commuter who uses public transport every working day. No one serious about representing Putney can avoid having a plan to improve public transport - and you need to hold us to the promises we make. My plan is set out below:

No further expansion of Heathrow – no to a third runway. But we need a credible alternative: I support expanding Gatwick and bringing in AirTrack.

Putney Station
Make sure that the long-overdue refit of Putney Station, including a new entrance from Oxford Road, finally happens

District Line
More evening services for the Wimbledon branch to make right reduced service since the Circle Line was changed; modernised signals at Earls Court to get more trains serving the District Line

Improvements to the 337 and 39 bus routes; more 24-hour services and protecting the Freedom Pass from any cuts by London councils.

The Thames
We have to make more of London’s jewel in the crown: our river. We need far more investment in riverboats and to make commuting on the Thames affordable for all – including Freedom Pass holders

Like my Labour predecessor Tony Colman MP, I've been consistent in the importance I place on protecting Putney, Roehampton and Southfields from aircraft noise.

I have made clear my opposition to the expansion of Heathrow, a third runway and a sixth terminal. There is cross party agreement on this issue and that would not change with my election as Putney’s MP. Putney is united against this expansion. And I continue to stand with Putney.

MY PLAN FOR PUTNEY My plan is more far-reaching than three policy areas, but the starting point is this: we need local leaders who know how they want Putney to evolve and who then actually do something about it. Putney is far too polarised between haves and have nots; the Conservatives have sold off over 16,000 affordable homes to rent and that has sharpened inequality – something that affects us all.

So the foundation for my Plan for Putney is a clear plan to tackle the overdevelopment threat facing Putney. No more lazy, anything goes planning from the council – instead, a tough plan that protects Putney from high rise overdevelopment, preserves Putney’s precious character, provides much more affordable housing and invests in our bulging-at-the-seems local services and infrastructure.

a real plan
One that sets out what sort of building we want on each site specified: the council document is just a briefing about these sites

a cast iron plan
Both developers and residents need certainty. Phrases like allowing high rise buildings in “exceptional circumstances” without telling us what exception means and which will set precedent don’t give us that

a comprehensive plan
To protect Putney and develop it positively we need to look at the area as a whole, not just site by site as if these buildings are unrelated to each other.

leadership on Putney’s future There’s a clear choice between the Conservatives, who think both that high-rise development in Putney is both inevitable and desirable; and those of us who want development that respects Putney’s character.

My vision for Putney

Ever since the famous “Putney Debates” led by Oliver Cromwell in 1647, Putney has been at the very centre of our democracy and civil culture. It is also a great place – from the attractive riverside down to the village feel of Southfields, and the cutting edge work of Roehampton University. My vision for Putney is that our community should punch its weight in London life – we should not viewed as a ‘quiet south London suburb’, but as a dynamic and diverse community – a flourishing and exciting city town.

We therefore need civic leadership that puts Putney first – that will build on our attractive townscape but not let the costs of living here get out of control, or ever become a place that excludes particular communities or averagely paid public sector workers. The pressures of the recession has put pressure on the costs of living for everyone – from small shopkeepers to young families, and retired older residents. The pressures on the public transport and road networks connecting Putney with the rest of London are also intense. And local public services are also feeling the pinch.

Things also tend to go wrong when one party claims local power in perpetuity. Increasingly the “Brighter Borough” slogan for Wandsworth is wearing thin. The council manages short-term pressures well, but its strategic outlook is weak. As a result the Borough, and Putney in particular may suffer in the longer term – we are already seeing signs of this happening. For example:-

Education - We have some good schools here, but not enough choice for parents – we need more good community schools, without special affiliations to particular faith or business sectors.

Urban Planning - Wandsworth Council is building a track record of unwanted and poorly negotiated mega developments, with too many high rises , whilst local shops are closing at an alarming rate. People in Putney don’t want to see the riverside and Richmond roads ripped up by high-rise development without any gains back to the community. Maintenance of streets and pavements is also deteriorating. Road safety and traffic management is very piecemeal here, with initiatives taken only after accidents happen. We need a long-term investment programme and 20 mph zone in all residential streets.

Health and Social Services - NHS and social services are not keeping pace with demand, both in pockets of need (for example in Roehampton), and more generally. For example there is lack of rehab beds, referral nightmare between local doctors and other services, and the appalling creep of increasing charges for social services. Hospitals, and council services must work together better, and there has been a disgraceful failure of civil leadership and public management over Putney Hospital.

I’m standing in this election because I want to be Putney’s champion – wherever and whenever Putney needs championing. Why should we put up for example with Crossrail (a train line to connect Wimbledon to Woodford via Putney, Chelsea, central and north London) being put back yet again to 2024 – why aren’t our councillors out championing the project? How can the Council keep on claiming credit for a low council tax balanced from generous central government support, but with no accountability for stealth taxes such as high council and social housing rents, business rates, parking charges, and social services charges.

We need a new type of transparent politics here that goes beyond just rounding up the “core vote” at election time – residents are disengaged and fed up with “big money politics”, at a time when we need to be spreading better levels of political engagement right across the borough. To promote local engagement Liberal Democrats advocate the establishment neighbourhood committees, empowered to take decisions about their area – including all the local councillors and representatives elected in the area regardless of party. We believe the council should carry out genuine consultation about strategic plans: for development, education, health services, and even street maintenance.

I’m looking forward in the coming election campaign to debating these issues with the other candidates, and with residents on the doorstep. I’ve never had a commercial career and have always worked for independent advocacy organisations for the causes that matter to people, rather than governmental or party political bodies – I hope to bring all my experience to bear as a charity worker and citizens’ advocate to become Putney’s champion.


March 19, 2010