Councillor Lister writes to Putney

Threat to our Post Offices, new social housing in Roehampton, an exciting future for Putney School of Art & Council Tax freeze....


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In common with just about everyone in Putney I have been outraged by the prospect of losing two of our popular local post offices.

It was the current Chancellor, Alistair Darling, who sparked the latest crisis. As Trade Secretary it was he who gave the order for 2,500 closures around the country.

Wandsworth as a borough comes off particularly badly - if we cannot persuade ministers and post office bosses to think again, we will have lost half our branches in just five years.

It's hard to see what good it does to the economy shutting down these small businesses. Both the Putney Bridge Road and Lower Richmond Road branches provide a vital service and attract shoppers to a local parade.

The worst of it will be the queues at the one post office in town that is left. I think Putney deserves better than this. If you can't make the council's public meeting at St Mary's Church on March 13, be sure to send back one of our postcards opposing the closures.

I was delighted to be able to open the latest social housing development in Roehampton last Friday.

The new apartments have been built on the site of the old Maltese Cat pub. All have gone to people on the council's housing lists.

More than half of the new tenants have moved in from larger council properties. The council will now be able to re-let these to other applicants - it means for every one new flat we let in this way, a second local family can benefit.

Exciting times are ahead for Putney School of Art. The council is putting the finishing touches to an £800,000 funding bid that would enable us to install a new lift, extend the digital media suite and add a new studio.

There would also be a new seminar room which could be used for art history courses as well as offering facilities for film.

The improvements could add space for another 1,000 learners a year and would help to reduce the waiting lists for many of the courses.

The council would put in around £150,000 with the rest coming from the Learning and Skills Council and a major contribution from the Friends, who are right behind this ambitious project. If we get the go ahead from the LSC work could start early in 2009.

Anyone who's fed up with rising gas bills or transport costs will have been cheered by the latest council tax news from Wandsworth Town Hall.

The council is freezing its share of the bill this year - so the only extra will be for the amount we all have to pay to the Mayor of London.

The zero increase means people in Putney will continue to pay the lowest council tax in the country - with their bills less than half those in neighbouring Kingston and Richmond.

Edward Lister

February 26, 2008

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