Two interesting reports reached me this week, one from the London Housing Federation and the second from Postwatch.


The London Housing Federation published some interesting but worrying statistics this week about housing and related costs in London. According to a MORI poll crime and safety only just pip housing as Londoners' top priority. And small wonder - average prices rose 8% in 2001 to £205,000 - 80% more than the average house price in Bristol. In Wandsworth, the average house costs £253,000, requiring a gross annual income of over £68,000 to buy it. However, the average gross income is about £25,000 in Wandsworth.

So where do our teachers, nurses and police live, and our sons and daughters? Social rented housing is one answer - but, partly because of the Right to Buy policy, (so vigorously pursued by the Council here in Wandsworth), there are 175,000 fewer social rented homes in London than in 1981. Locally, Wandsworth Council have compounded the problem by selling social housing on the open market.

What we need, urgently, if we are to recruit and retain, nurses, police and teachers, is affordable housing. This could be pursued by Wandsworth Council as they have the right to force developers of land over a certain size (half a hectare) to provide affordable housing on the site. This helps create healthy, mixed communities, as opposed to large penthouse blocks along the river. Hammersmith and Fulham recently insisted on 50% affordable housing on a development - Wandsworth Council have to be forced by the local Labour MPs to accept even 25%.

The other option available to the Council is to stop selling off council assets to developers, and to insist that all old school buildings, for example the Ethelburga School Site, caretakers houses, and other properties, are used to provide housing for key workers. Instead the Council sells off any property it can (witness the Garden Centre), pockets the money, and uses it to lower Council tax, but only in election year, such as this year. Every other year Council tax rises way above inflation.

So we residents pay less one year, lots more for 3 years, and in turn the council sells off the family silver, and refuses to provide any help for all the people who clean or police our streets, teach our children, and our own children who would like to live in the communities they grew up in.

The second report came from Postwatch - the official consumer voice for all things postal and covers the period of April to November last year. The key result is that 84.2% of 1st Class stamped mail in the South West arrived the next day.

To put that in context, we in the SW area are about average, with our neighbours in Twickenham coming top with 92.2%, and the East coming in worst with 81.6%. I would not personally be against second class deliveries being dropped, provided all households are guaranteed a daily delivery before noon. I have been to the sorting office very recently, and the situation, as I have said before, does seem to be improving. Try the Postwatch website for more information: www.postwatch.co.uk

To check if I am your MP, please log on to www.locata.co.uk/commons and enter your full postcode.

I have set up a website www.tonycolman.org.uk which I hope you will use and enjoy.

Tony Colman MP

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First Putneysw15.com Diary Entry 8.11.2001

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