|Thamesfield By-Election Hustings|
A lively evening by all accounts!
This was a very lively evening, organised and chaired by the Putney Society, when each of the four candidates set out their key messages and the audience of about 70-80 people put questions on a wide range of topics. Standing in Thamesfield are Marian Hoffman (Green), Christian Klapp (Labour), Mike Ryder (Conservative) and Lisa Smart (Liberal Democrat).
Topics covered ranged as widely as the Hotham "yellow brick wall" to what advice candidates would give the new Council Leader. The issues of tall buildings and over-development were raised and it was clear that a number of residents are increasingly concerned that too much strain is being put on local infrastructure. Questions were also asked about why the council’s reserves were not being drawn on to limit the extent of cuts which all accepted had to be made. At the same time assurances were given that weekly rubbish collections would continue and that there are no plans to charge for the use of council parks and play areas in Putney.
More focus on the Thames Tunnel might have been expected but as all candidates were united in opposing the use of Barn Elms as a main construction site, it was clear that the concerns of residents’ had been listened to. We learnt that the decision to dismiss the Parks police team has not yet been finally taken and that discussions on the issue are continuing. A final decision is now to be expected in September.
The Localism Bill was also discussed and in this context several calls were made for better consultation by the council on key policies and improved transparency in council decision-making.
The Putney Hospital site was raised and we heard that it is still in NHS ownership with no confirmation as to if and when the Council will purchase the site and open a free school there.
Both incumbent Thamesfield councillors, Jim Maddan and Rosemary Torrington, were present to see the four candidates in action. By Friday they will know which one will be their new colleague in the ward.