Councillor Lister writes to Putney

Heathrow, Hoardings & more ............


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The council's community safety team has been delighted with the results from a scheme being tried on the Dover House estate which aims to cut the number of unwanted doorstep callers.

Signs and stickers displayed throughout the area make it clear to any would-be conmen that they are entering a 'no cold calling zone'. The message is getting through because residents in the trial area have reported a 70 per cent drop in the number of unexpected callers.

We are now going to extend the approach throughout the whole estate and are looking at the potential in other areas with a similar profile of households.

I'm getting very concerned about the Government's attitude to first time buyers. For many local people the only way to get started is to purchase a part share in a newly-built property. But the catch is, if you can only afford a 25 per cent stake, the Chancellor still wants 100 per cent of the stamp duty.

On a flat worth £280,000 even if you are only paying £70,000 for your quarter share you will still be hit with an £8,400 tax bill.

I had a letter from a Tooting resident who, when he came to sell his 25 per cent stake, asked the Revenue to refund the 75 per cent of the stamp duty he had paid. You can guess the answer he got!

The whole point of shared ownership is that it helps you buy just what you can afford. It's a stage in your life when every penny counts - instead of cashing in on first time buyers the Chancellor should be easing the stamp duty burden.

I wonder if the airports minister Jim Fitzpatrick has any friends in Putney after his astonishing attempt to rubbish a noise survey report one of his
predecessors had commissioned.

The study, which took a team of international experts six years to complete, found that ten times as many people as previously thought were annoyed by aircraft noise from Heathrow.

Mr Fitzpatrick had been trying to keep the report's findings secret for months. He only backed down after I met him with fellow council leaders from Hounslow and Richmond.

You can imagine the study's authors are none too happy with having their work denigrated in this way. But then Mr Fitzpatrick can't afford any report, however inconvenient, to get in the way of his plans to add another 900 flights a day at Heathrow.

The Government's campaign for a third runway will start just before Christmas. What's the betting this seasonal gift will be wrapped with a comforting assurance that all these extra flights won't really make the noise any worse?

Finally I can't sign off without commenting on the surprising decision of a planning inspector to overrule the council and allow a massive 80 sq metre illuminated hoarding on a long-empty building facing Putney Bridge.

We think the display will be an eyesore in this prominent location. The inspector trusted that the income generated from the advertising would help to pay for the building restoration and has tried to tie in the owner to an agreed timetable for the works.

The council just wants the owner to get on with the job of bringing the property back into use. It's a valuable site which has planning permission - and of course it's in a conservation area across the road from the listed St Mary's church. Does it really take the imposition of this huge advertising panel to get things moving?

Edward Lister

November 8, 2007

Edward Lister is the Leader of Wandsworth Council and a member for Putney's Thamesfield ward.