Councillor Lister Writes to Wandsworth Town

Traffic, Trains & Icelandic Banks.....

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If there's one objective we can all agree on for the town centre it's the need to come up with a way of taming the traffic. 

Now Transport for London, with funding from the brewery site developers Minerva, have announced a 12-month study looking at the options for a complete rethink of the   one-way system.

This is good news because it means that whatever development is finally approved for the site will have to demonstrate substantial transport benefits to the town centre.

The money for the TfL study is not conditional on the current planning application going ahead. Doing the work now means we will all be in a better position to know what improvements will be possible, what they are likely to achieve - and how much they will cost.. 

Anyone who travels to work in the morning from Wandsworth Town will have first hand knowledge of the station's many shortcomings. At October's council meeting I presented a petition on behalf of more than 300 people calling on South West Trains to start tackling these problems.

Network Rail, which is responsible for the main structure of the station, say they expect to start work extending the platforms to take longer ten-car trains by the end of 2010. This will include rebuilding platforms 1 and 4 to modern standards.

As for the facilities for passengers, the council is making real progress with SWT who look after the station. We have secured contributions from local developers to help bring forward a variety of much needed improvements.

It means that SWT can start work next year on a new ticket office at the station entrance to replace the existing one at the top of the stairs to platforms 2 and 3. Using this money they should also be able to press ahead during 2009 with subway improvements as well as a new canopy and retail unit on platform 4.

In the meantime we are keeping up the pressure on the company not to reduce the already inadequate opening hours of the current ticket office.  

I have been asked by many people in the last two weeks about the council's investments and in particular whether it has any money placed with Icelandic banks. 

The answer is no. We do try to get the best return on deposits as this helps to keep the council tax down for our residents. But we have strict rules which means that the priority is always to limit risk rather than go for the highest interest rate on offer.

We've also seen this week how many councils who thought they could get building schemes funded on 'credit' by the private sector have also had a reality check.

We've always had a straight-forward approach to these projects in Wandsworth. If we can't afford them, we don't do them. It's called living within your means.

Over the years the council has generated substantial sums from sale of land and properties. This has all been used to improve local housing, schools and leisure facilities. The great thing about relying on our own resources is that we don't end up saddled with debt – which is great news for the council tax payer

I can see many councils having to impose some pretty hefty tax increases in the coming years. But if any borough is well placed to ride out the storm it is Wandsworth.

Councillor Edward Lister
Leader of the Council

November 4, 2008