Little Things mean a Lot …

We are not here to castigate the worthy elected representatives of our dear Wandsworth Borough. 

But perhaps to chide them a little.

We fear that once again they are so embroiled in their borough-wide ‘grands projets’ (see below) that they are in danger of losing touch with the day-to-day realities of those whom they were voted in to represent.  And whose voices will be heard on May 7th, albeit in a broader national context.

So it is perhaps timely to raise a couple of issues.

Firstly, the protests against the closure of the much-loved, much-used Battersea Sports Centre.

At a recent ‘Meet the People’ session in Latchmere Ward (York Gardens, March 16th) members of the audience at this sparsely-attended gathering reminded the assembled councillors and officials that the decision to close the Centre had not gone through a sufficiently wide consultation process and that to build 80 temporary residences on the site of Sports Centre for those people who have to leave their homes on the nearby Winstanley Estate as part of the regeneration and decanting process was surely not the only option.   

For residents, citizens and voters this is not the end of the matter.  It is not a fait accompli – even though the council may hope that it is.  On-going petition signing continues. 

Secondly, let’s look at road and pavement repairs – particularly in the York Road/Battersea Reach area where damage is caused by the sheer volume (in both senses) of construction traffic and by their inappropriate manoeuvring in Petergate and Elteringham Street in order to save the 350 yards to enter the site without having to go all round our world-famous roundabout. (Thanks very much, Stanley Kubrick.)

Despite frequent and heartfelt requests over the years, the situation is not satisfactory resolved – either by timely repairs or by slight modifications to the road layout or by better, enforceable signage.   It was raised at the above-mentioned meeting – there was some blustering, sniggering and buck-passing among the scores of executives.

Therefore we may conclude that as nothing has happened, that as nothing appears to be about to happen, that as minds are clearly occupied elsewhere …. it is not at all surprising that empty chairs out-numbered occupied chairs …. because local people have neither faith nor trust in the attitudes or actions of the local council on their behalf.  There is a growing sense of disenfranchisement.

Let them re-build London’s biggest food market, let them establish an Embassy Zone, let them promote a new pedestrian river crossing, let them sanction the renovation of London’s most iconic and significant industrial building, let them bring Formula E motor racing to Battersea Park, let them regenerate The Ram Quarter, let them re-route the South Circular Road, let them give the go-ahead to inappropriately tall buildings near the heliport, let them re-configure the delightful one-way-system, let them turn the Upper Richmond Road in East Putney into a Basingstoke look-alike, let them re-develop the old Putney Hospital, let them grant construction sites for the Thames Tideway Tunnel in our parks and wetlands ….

But please, please …. let them also mend our roads and pavements and look after our existing amenities … because little things do indeed mean a lot … and that includes listening to people and hearing what they have to say ….  Arrogance and self-serving complacency coupled with inaction are not worthy of this noble borough.