Forum Topics

Wandsworth Council's £300,000 Pay Off

The danger here is thinking that Dawn Warwick is the problem and not that her case is indicative of a much bigger problem. There has been a very significant rise in the salaries of people at the top level of local government so far this century. This was justified by the argument that the public sector needed to keep talented people and had to keep pace with executive salary rises in the private sector particularly in financial services. The basis for this was a bit dubious at the time as there was little evidence that people were being poached from local government but the fiscal position generally was much better so there was money in the pot to pay for these rises. Two important changes have happened since this time. Firstly the defined benefit pension has more or less disappeared from the private sector and most people under forty won't have one. The fact that half of Dawn Warwick's pay off related to her pension entitlement shows how important this is. The net present value of someone who has had a career in local government and been paid a six figure salary would be millions. We complain about bankers' bonuses all the time but ignore this far greater expense that comes directly out of the public purse. Secondly the state of government finances has deteriorated significantly requiring us to make painful cuts in spending on services. One area where cuts are unlikely to be made is in the salaries of senior public sector employees. The public sector works very differently to the private sector. A personnel officer once told me that in the latter by 45 you are either firing people or getting fired as there is only room for a small number of people in any organisation who are older than that. Your pay is usually linked to the amount of revenue you bring in and if the people of your generation who were your clients are no longer there it will tend to fall if you keep your job at all. In the public sector it is like the Hotel California in that you check in but can never leave. People rise to the top whose main talent is knowing how to play the system and therefore aren't really that employable in any job that isn't funded by the tax payer. Because their contracts make them so expensive to get rid of and because it is very much in their interest to hang on as long as possible most public sector organisations gradually accrue more and more senior people many of whom add no real value. It shouldn't escape your attention that Wandsworth's children's service cut a senior position at a time when it is under huge pressure to improve standards and there was no suggestion that the loss of the role would undermine this goal. These taxpayer funded sinecures will but an even greater burden on public finances as time progresses. It is not just the cost of paying salaries but the pensions that will require other services to be cut. Wandsworth is relatively well off having reduced headcount at an early stage and the borough pension scheme is well funded at this point but that is not the case elsewhere. Schemes in other London boroughs have deficits of over half a billion and I was told of one example in which the number of potential pensioners from the Council scheme could eventually reach 7% of the population. This can't be funded at the local level so we will all have to contribute to the bill, a bill that in large part be paid by people who have no future entitlement to the generous pensions they are having to fund for previous generations.

David Parker ● 1858d4 Comments ● 1846d

Wandsworth's 'Shameful' Decision on Battersea Development

Could someone explain what exactly is shameful about this decision in particular rather than the way housing is managed generally.These 'affordable' units that people are getting upset about are going to be sold or rented at a 40% discount to the market level. Given the average price and rent of flats in this development these units could only become the homes of people who earn well above average incomes. So we are currently effectively subsidising the accommodation of the relatively well off - isn't this the scandal here.The only sustainable way to stop London house prices and rents spiralling ever upwards is match supply and demand and that means building as many homes as possible. The 4,200 homes that will be created as a result of this development will do much to put a lid on the market but without them the property shortage would be more acute.Ultimately there is no such thing as an 'unaffordable' home because people will live in these properties. Although they will be for people on higher incomes many of the people moving in to them will be moving out of cheaper properties creating more availability and reducing pressure on prices and rents.As far as the borough is concerned these new homes will all be paying Council Tax and the revenue can be used by the Council on things like social care and be more effectively targeted at the needy.What seems to me shameful here is how every property development is politicised by both parties pretending that our system of 'affordable' housing in some way benefits the poor. It does not.

David Parker ● 2267d5 Comments ● 1847d

Memorial Service.

On Saturday 4 August 2018 at 2.00pm, a memorial service is being held in the Metropole Theatre, Abertillery, South Wales for two Abertillery murder victims, 8 year-old Freda Burnell and 11 year-old Florence Little who were killed in Abertillery in 1921.Their killer, Harold Jones a.k.a Harry Stevens lived in Fulham, Putney and Hammersmith between 1946 and 1971 when he died. With a choir and town band performing at the memorial service there is expected to be over 250 people attending. There will be an expected 50 members of the 2 girls' family members attending from various parts of Britain. After the service there will be a re-dedication of the 2 girls' memorials at Brynithel Cemetery.Over the past 7 months, myself, Councillors Gill Clark and Julie Holt have raised nearly £3,400.00 towards the cost of restoring the 2 dilapidated memorials. We are still about £200 short of paying the memorial mason who has done the work at cost price and about £300 short of printing 260 memorial service programmes. These will consist of 8 pages each.We have now been given a donation to book the Metropole Theatre for the event. We  have also been kindly offered a donation of £300 towards the cost a buffet that will be held in the Metropole later in the afternoon.If anyone would like to consider making a donation for this worthy cause please contact me on 07989555376 or n.milkin@sky.comPlease google Florence Little/Freda Burnell  or Harold Jones - Killer for more information.Regards.Neil Milkins

Neil Milkins ● 1936d0 Comments ● 1936d

WPCC Election 2018 - why I am not standing

Why I am not seeking re-election as a Conservator in the February 2018 election…..and why I am recommending that none of the Conservators elected in February 2015 do so either.We need a clean sweep so that the charity can move forward with confidence into the next triennium.  Our precious open spaces are more important than any individual or group of individuals.Regrettably there is an extremely destructive small group who, in my view, will go to almost any lengths to try and bring the charity down.  This, I believe, is their aim.  The Charity Commission’s statement of 22nd December 2017 made clear ‘It would encourage those with appropriate knowledge and skills to consider standing.’The statement continues: ‘The Commission hopes that after the election all the elected and appointed trustees will work together to take the charity forward. This would include considering mediation to resolve any outstanding issues within the trustee body and putting into place any actions issued by the Commission.’It is not encouraging to think the new Board may have to consider mediation as a starting point.  With new, ‘fresh faces’ and open minds this should not be needed.The Commission has given an indication, but without commitment, that they are looking to close the Statutory Inquiry within the first six months of 2018.It is my understanding, from a meeting I had with the Charity Commission on 18th December 2017, that the Commission wants to bring this whole matter to conclusion so that the trustees can get on with running the charity.  I am equally clear that the only issue that the Commission is investigating is that within the current remit of the Interim Manager.I will be looking to give my five votes to candidates who are able to prove to me that they are not coming with any ‘baggage’ or arguments from recent past disputes. We have many talented levy-payers with sound common sense and appropriate skills including the ability to work collectively who we need to support to take on these important Conservator/trustee roles.  I will give them my full support in whatever way I can.  I will also continue to give my full support to the quite excellent staff that WPCC is fortunate enough to employ.  Prue WhyteElected Conservator

Prue Whyte ● 2095d1 Comments ● 2094d

Starfish Breakfast Run and Picnic 2017

Join Starfish for the 10th annual Breakfast Run and Picnic on Clapham Common on Sunday 24th September 2017!Our friendly Breakfast Run and Picnic offers a choice of distances –2k, 5k, 10k or 15k - and this year we have teamed up with fitness and events specialists, Innovation Sports, to make 2017 the biggest and best yet. The course is totally flat around the common, so you can run as fast or as slow as you like. There’s always a supportive and friendly atmosphere, with crowds cheering along the route, and everyone receives a medal and Starfish t-shirt upon finishing. But the fun doesn’t stop after the run! Everyone gets a picnic basket to enjoy on the common, and there will be a tombola, free 100m kids dash and other stalls for all members of the family. Entry includes: Starfish branded T-shirt Chip timing Medal Picnic basket with healthy snacks to help you re-energise after the run!The event is on Sunday 24th September, starting at 9.30am by the band stand in the centre of Clapham Common (Windmill Drive, SW4 9DE). Facilities include secure bag storage, toilets, medical support and water stations. Prices:  2k (under 12s): £8 5k: £17 10k: £20 15k: £23Get your ticket here - - and get your friends half price!Money raised will go towards Starfish projects in South Africa, bringing life, hope and opportunity to the vulnerable and orphaned children Starfish cares for. We invest in the future of over 12,000 children a year so they can grow into happy and independent young adults.We look forward to seeing you there!

Starfish Greathearts Foundation ● 2225d0 Comments ● 2225d

Support Your Local Newspaper

I hope the good people who run this site don't mind me putting this message up. I'm confident they won't given what I am told about their basic decency.The local chapter of the NUJ is currently balloting for industrial action for staff working for Newsquest in the South London area. This includes the Wandsworth Guardian. What is proposed is a significant number of job cuts across the area and a move to 'remote working' for many of the editorial staff. The paper is currently based in Sutton.Newsquest is owned by a Texas based media conglomerate with a CEO who is paid millions. The UK subsidiary is profitable and only needs to make these cuts to maintain the dividend growth to the parent company.This is not comparable to the opportunistic industrial action taken by overpaid tube drivers. The people who work at these newspapers are skilled professionals on relatively low wages.Many of us may no longer read a local newspaper, and I have to confess to not having picked up a copy of the Guardian for a long time. I do often read their articles online though. There is no doubt that newspapers in general have declined from their heyday but it would be wrong to say that they have lost all value to the local community and we would miss them if they were gone.We are lucky in this area to have a good independent news web site but that is nicely complemented by printed paper and so a shuttered Wandsworth Guardian or a paper produced with minimal editorial content would be bad news for us all.IF you aren't inclined to lobby on behalf of the Wandsworth Guardian by for instance writing to Sheila Boswell, Jane Ellison or Justine Greening then you could still support the local paper simply by reading it either in print and online.

David Parker ● 3042d1 Comments ● 2574d

Balham Literary Festival: 10th-12th June

COSTA AND SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE WINNER HELEN MACDONALD, ROBERT MACFARLANE AND CHINA MIÉVILLE ANNOUNCED TO HEADLINE THE INAUGURAL BALHAM LITERARY FESTIVAL IN JUNEAn exciting line-up of bestselling authors, performers, and outdoor workshops has been announced for the inaugural Balham Literary Festival, at The Bedford in Balham (Friday 10th June to Sunday 12th June). Costa-winning author Helen Macdonald, Robert Macfarlane, China Miéville and performance artist Inua Ellams will be headlining the three-day festival, which is curated by Dulwich Books of West Dulwich and will celebrate ‘A Way of Being in the World.’ The festival starts with a taster event on 4th June called The Midnight Run, a night-time cultural exploration of Balham with award-winning poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams. On Friday 10th June, Rob Cowen, author of the bestselling Common Ground will explain how to find your own piece of edgeland. Later, Helen Macdonald, author of the Costa-winning H is for Hawk will be discussing the resurgence of British nature writing with Sara Wheeler and Patrick Barkham. The day ends with live music presented in conjunction with Caught by the River. On Saturday morning, bird-watcher and author Tim Dee will be discussing ‘the Birds and the Bees’ with poet and artist Sean Borodale, author of Bee Journal, whilst Lauren Elkin and Matt Beaumont will recount their experiences of being ‘flâneurs’ in London and Paris, by day and by night. That afternoon in the Bedford’s Map Room, Kirsty Gunn, Tendai Huchu and Will Cohu will speak about the song of the land, and the creation of landscape and atmosphere in fiction. For those who would rather enjoy the summer outside, Ruth Potts from anarchist collective bread, print and roses will be leading a walking tour around South West London. Back in The Bedford, the festival’s second day continues with Andrea Wulf, James Macdonald Lockhart and Will Atkins on extremes of flight and exploration, followed by China Miéville who will skew the picturesque in an investigation written especially for the event.Sunday begins with Bradley Garrett and Inua Ellams exploring the urban landscape and then sees two events with bestselling academic and travel writer Rob Macfarlane, speaking first about the myth of the Green Man with China Miéville and Nina Lyon, and then later in conversation with Andrew Michael Hurley, author of 2015’s Costa winner The Loney, and Stephanie Cross. Environment writer and author Fred Pearce and architectural writer Owen Hatherley will close the festival discussing our built and natural landscapes and how we can save them. Tickets start from £10.00 and are available at

Hayley Steed ● 2706d0 Comments ● 2706d