Ravi Govindia looks back on 2014 and outlines the council’s ambitions for the coming year
It has been another successful year for the Brighter Borough and the council has made great progress in delivering its vision for jobs and growth, and in helping local people to achieve their aspirations.
Regeneration in Nine Elms is starting to deliver thousands of jobs and affordable homes for local people. One of the year’s high points came in November when our long campaign to bring the Tube to Battersea was given the final go-ahead by the Government. Two new Northern Line stations will open in 2020, and we are now making the case for a second stage extension all the way to Clapham Junction.
There have been great steps forward in the revival of Wandsworth Town centre and we have begun work redesigning the gyratory system to create a much more pedestrian and cycle-friendly environment. As with Nine Elms, the many new affordable homes and jobs that flow from this development are being targeted towards local people.
During 2014 we also agreed ‘master plans’ to improve the Alton area in Roehampton, and the Winstanley and York Road estates in Battersea. These plans were developed with unprecedented levels of input from local people and have the potential to give thousands of our residents a better quality of life and many more opportunities to succeed.
Another highlight from the past year has been the tremendous achievements of our Work Match recruitment team which has helped over 150 local people into jobs, training and apprenticeships. Work Match is part of the ‘Wandsworth Jobs Package’ – a growing collection of employment services which are giving borough residents a real advantage in the jobs market. We will continue to expand and develop these services in the coming year.
Our successes in 2014 have been achieved in the face of a challenging financial climate. Our peerless track record of financial stewardship has allowed us to make a clear commitment to protect key front line services, like libraries, at a time when other boroughs are slashing theirs. Instead we have pursued more innovative ways of reducing our costs including supporting the creation of two ‘staff-led mutuals’ to deliver some of our services more efficiently.
Looking forward into 2015, I will launch a new housing strategy that will deliver thousands of low-cost homes on a scale not attempted before, and our troubled families team, one of the UK’s most successful, will be expanded to help hundreds more get back on their feet.
I am absolutely delighted that Formula E chose Battersea Park as the venue for their end of season finale in 2015. If agreed, this could see significant investment and showcase Battersea and this new technology to the world.
There is more good news ahead for local cyclists as TfL starts work on two ‘Quietway’ routes through the borough, while we make other improvements to the cycle network, including the innovative cycle-friendly roundabout at Queens Circus.
This summer is crunch-time in the airports expansion debate. We will continue to challenge plans for new runways at Heathrow which would create new flightpaths over Wandsworth, more noise and come with no guaranteed respite. The council is actively backing rival plans for expansion at Gatwick which could deliver jobs and growth in Wandsworth as well as major improvements to our transport network – all without increasing the noise over our borough. I welcome the cross party support we have on this issue and we will continue to work with the airport to ensure that the benefits to this borough are realised.
This is typical of our ambitions for 2015 - doing things differently to make the borough a successful, exciting place, while also protecting the things our residents value most.
Thank you for your support over the past year and I wish you and your family a healthy and prosperous 2015.”
Councillor Ravi Govindia
Leader of Wandsworth Council
January 6, 2014