Action on the housing crisis now

Escalating property prices, and inaction by the Tory council, have created a housing crisis in London, and we must act now. Regardless of who wins the General Election, there is action that can be taken locally.

Wandsworth Borough Council has a target of 33% properties to be affordable in new developments. However, developments consistently miss this target. House prices across Wandsworth have reached stratospheric levels even by the usual standards of London, up by 18% in 2014. The rental market is largely unregulated and where housing is built it is largely for the super-rich and transient.

Wandsworth Liberal Democrats have started a petition calling on the Council to do the following:
● Ensure all new property development have at least 33% affordable homes
● Any social housing sold under ‘right to buy’ is replaced
● Economic viability of developments to be made available publicly as part of planning committee submission

Do sign our petition here

Wandsworth Council has repeatedly failed in their responsibility to ensure that sufficient housing is provided for all members of the community. Our petition is calling for action now. Housing costs will begin to cripple our future economic growth and force even more ordinary and young people out of areas like Tooting, Earlsfield and Balham.

Nationally the Liberal Democrats are fighting for:

  • 300,000 homes a year built, with more garden cities, using a housing investment bank to kick start investment, like the green investment bank has done.
  • “rent-to-own homes” scheme – monthly payments equivalent to rent build up a share in their home, without requiring a deposit. After 30 years, occupants would gain full ownership of the property.
  • Improved quality of rental properties
    – From April 2018 private landlords will not be able to rent out properties which do not meet minimum energy efficiency standards;
    – From April 2016 residential private landlords can’t unreasonably turn down a tenant’s request for energy efficiency improvements.
  • Protecting tenants from revenge evictions, so tenants don’t face the prospect of losing their home simply for asking that repairs be made
  • Maintaining, and increasing, the social housing stock

Transition Town and local activism – a very Lib Dem way

Last week I was invited to Transition Town Tooting’s Electing the Future event with other parliamentary candidates. A discussion based evening, rather than a hustings, there were some great ideas around improving community, controlling traffic & pollution, access to housing, green spaces, locally sourced food, better streets and independent retail environments.

Philip giving group feedback from one of the discussions

Philip giving group feedback from one of the discussions

Locally the Lib Dems have are campaigning on safer streets and improved housing, and you can support us at the links below:

In terms of local decision making, in Lib Dem run Borough of Sutton they have encouraged people to set up more resident and community groups, tenants’ associations and friends of parks and heritage buildings, helping them bid for funds so they can make their own decisions about the area where they live. An example is a district centre regeneration project worth more than £1m which was handed over to local residents to agree and oversee.

The Transition Town movement focuses on sustainable living, especially in light of climate change, and nationally the Liberal Democrats understand this, which is why the Liberal Democrats have  it a priority for the next Government, if we are part of it, for five green laws to safeguard the environment:

Zero Carbon Bill

Introducing a Zero Carbon Britain Bill in the next parliament to end Britain’s adverse impact on climate change for good by 2050.

Zero Waste Bill

Treble fines and claw back £500 million for the taxpayer by clamping down on organisations which fly-tip to deliberately evade tax and review the tax structure across landfill, incineration and collection.

Green Homes Bill

New Green Homes Bill will insulate up to 10 million homes by 2025 and offer at least £100 a year off Council Tax for ten years when energy improvements are carried out.

Green Transport Bill

Transport has a significant role to play in reducing carbon emissions. In the UK, transport is responsible for around 25% of our carbon emissions and is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions. We will bring forward a comprehensive package of transport policies to continue to build a people-centred, sustainable, safe travel system that helps the economy grow.

Nature Bill

Establish the Natural Capital Committee on a statutory footing to provide advice to Government to ensure that nature is at the heart of government decision-making and that government departments are held to account for achieving progress against commitments to improving the natural environment.

There is no magic solution to solve all the problems discussed, it requires local and national actions. However, communities thrive best when there is local participation, something the Lib Dems truly believe in.

The NHS and TTIP – no backdoor privatisation.

I’ve received many e-mails on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the impact on the NHS. People are right to be concerned about any major trade agreements, especially one opening up economies to multinationals (who frankly haven’t helped themselves in this battle over the years). However, there is no risk to the NHS of being forced to open up for private American firms to run.

Nick Clegg addressed this issue at Lib Dem spring conference

The letter from Cecilia Malmstroma, the EU Commissioner in charge of the TTIP negotiations, to the Government about TTIP and the NHS is also available here



A proactive appraoch to road safety in Wandsworth Borough

As our roads get busier, many people complain about road safety as residents, pedestrians, cyclists and even motorists face increasing dangers. Current policy only allows officers to look at improving street design after 3 people have been killed or seriously injured in a 3 consecutive year period, or 25% of households in a given area have petitioned for change is fit for purpose

This is ludicrous, and is reactive policy making with no strategy for road safety. As a result we have a patchwork of schemes and roads with different speed limits in Wandsworth causing confusion. “Rat runs” are increasing, and causing traffic incidents across the Borough, like at the junction of Upper Tooting Road, Lessingham Avenue and Ansell Road – the 5th most dangerous spot for cyclists in London!

At Upper Tooting Road and Lessingham Avenue, Tooting, the 5th most dangerous junction for cyclists in London

At Upper Tooting Road and Lessingham Avenue, Tooting, the 5th most dangerous junction for cyclists in London

To change this, Wandsworth Liberal Democrats, and I, have started a petition to ask Wandsworth Council to take the following actions to improve road safety:

  • Ensure that all residential roads have a speed limit of 20mph
  • Work proactively with resident associations / civic societies and local residents to identify further areas where 20 mph limits on their own are not sufficient

Please sign our petition here

Numerous Councils in London have introduced 20mph residential zones, such as Lambeth, Camden and Islington. 20mph zones can be done on most streets without the need for any physical calming, some streets may be appropriate to have a higher limit but any limit above 20mph should be a considered decision based on local circumstances. The opposite of today’s policy.

In Portsmouth, when 20mph was introduced, road traffic incidents declined by a third. Imagine the reduction in demand for A&E! Safer streets also encourages cycling, increasing the health benefits to residents.

A more proactive approach to road safety which is based on changes to legislation, has proven benefits to both residents, health services and is more cost efficient to implement by the Council than introducing speed bumps and actively consulting on every other road.

Sign the petition today, and together we can deliver safer streets in Wandsworth.

P.S. I have written to Boris Johnson, as Chair of TfL, and Wandsworth Borough Council to ask what actions they are taking to improve road safety on Upper Tooting Road / Lessingham Avenue and Ansell Road.