Following my letter to Network Rail regarding step-free access at Wandsworth Common Station, I was very pleased to receive confirmation that the station will be nominated for funding in the next round of the "Access for All" programme.
This programme has funded step-free access and other accessibility measures in stations across the country, including just down the line at Balham. This is a very encouraging first step in ensuring that public transport is available and convenient for everyone in the local community.
Today, I have written to the Managing Director of the Southern Region of Network Rail calling for an investigation looking into improving accessibility and step-free access at Wandsworth Common Station.
Currently, there is step free access on Platform 1, but those wishing to travel on Platform 2 must cross an elevated footbridge, which is not accessible for wheelchair users, parents with young children, and the elderly.
I have called for a feasibility study to be conducted, given the signifcant proportion of the local community that falls around the station.
Read my full letter here:
I am concerned about South Western Railway’s planned cuts to local services.
Earlsfield Station could lose two trains per hour off-peak, and direct services to Shepperton could be cut.
With residents gradually returning to offices, I believe that these cuts to rail services are ill-considered. In addition, if we are to tackle air pollution and reduce carbon emissions, we need to be encouraging public transport use - not making it more difficult to use.
The South Western Railway’s Consultation on this matter closes on Sunday 19th September. If you are affected by these planned changes, I would encourage you to submit your view to the consultation here.
There was significant concern locally about Wandsworth Council’s decision to extend Controlled Parking Zone restrictions in areas of Earlsfield and Tooting from 9:30am to 9:30pm each day.
Over 1400 local residents completed my consultation on the change. I am pleased that, following our pressure, Wandsworth Council have U-turned on their plans to extend CPZ restrictions. Instead, Event Day only restrictions are planned from 1 October - a far more sensible solution, and something which other councils with stadiums do.
I received more than double the number of responses to Wandsworth Council’s rushed, ill-thought out consultation. In fact, over 93% of respondents were not happy with the council’s plans.
This should never have happened. But I am pleased the Council finally listened and have U-turned on their attempt to rush through restrictions that would simply act as another cash-grab on hardworking local residents.
It is so important that those living with sight loss in our community are supported when using public transport.
That is why I recently wrote to South Western Rail and Southern Rail to enquire as to when warning tactile - a vital safety and accessibility tool for those travelling by train - will be installed at Earlsfield and Wandsworth Stations.
I am happy to say that Southern Rail have now confirmed that warning tactile has been installed on surface platforms at Wandsworth Common Station. And, although tactile is yet to be installed at Earlsfield Station, South West Railway have stated that Network Rail is working hard to deliver these accessibility improvements.
Rest assured I will continue to press for accessibility for local residents living with sight loss.
I was deeply concerned - as I know many local residents were - to hear of plans to close Balham station to outward passengers from next Monday until December 2021.
While I recognise the scheduled repairs to the escalator are essential works, it is important to me that residents are not inconvenienced by the planned updates. Indeed, I also appreciate that it was alarming for many to learn that the closure was to begin in less than a week, lasting for such an extended period of time.
It is my understanding that the decision to close Balham station to outward travelling passengers was taken after a trial closure of the downward escalator indicated that use of the staircase at peak travel times was resulting in over-crowding and therefore social distancing was difficult.
I called a meeting with Transport for London to outline my concerns and discuss alternatives, such as more staff at the station to support social distancing at peak travel times. I am pleased to announce that as a result of this meeting, TfL have agreed to undertake a week-long trial at Balham Station, which will see the staircase open for use throughout the day and outward travel therefore possible from the station.
The trial will commence on Monday 28th June and last 3-4 days. Following the trial, TfL will assess whether outward travel from Balham during the planned escalator repairs is viable.
During this time - and beyond should the trial prove successful - I would recommend additional time is allowed for travel through Balham Station. By doing so, we increase the likelihood of a successful trial. More importantly, we can all play our part to ensure all residents can travel safely.
Please check back for further updates on this situation.
Today Wandsworth Council has announced that it is suspending the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that it implemented across our community. Wandsworth Council failed from the start to communicate the implementation of LTNs to local residents, and instead of listening and reviewing they have now decided to pull them out because do not want the fuss.
As I have said before, I was not consulted and nor were local residents on these changes. They were brought in overnight and pitted neighbour against neighbour, causing fierce rows and division. The Council should be ashamed.
When the going got tough, they tried to pass the buck, and now Wandsworth Council is wasting tens of thousands of pounds by scrapping the LTNs entirely. The Conservative Cabinet Member for Transport's position is untenable.
Attention will now turn to the TfL Streetspace scheme on Upper Tooting Road, Balham High Road and Tooting High Street. I know that this is a scheme that has its issues and needs reviewing. However, I am confident that TfL want to make it work for our local environment.
Contrast TfL's response with that of Wandsworth Council. TfL is taking feedback on board, they are hosting a virtual public meeting next week to gather feedback from local people and I am meeting with a TfL representative next week to discuss the scheme. I will be taking him to meet some of the affected businesses and discussing the issues emergency services have had. TfL evidently want the scheme to work and they deserve credit for trying.
I have been clear from the start that I am supportive of schemes which encourage cycling and make our streets safer. We do that by engaging in polite and respectful discussion to bring about changes collectively.
I have received lots of correspondence from local residents regarding the changes that have been made to our roads as part of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood and the Streetspace schemes on the A24 (Tooting High Street/Upper Tooting Road/Balham High Road). As part of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes, many streets have had filters put in to close the road to all vehicles except cycles and some now have turning restrictions. As part of the Streetspace scheme, a number of changes have been made to Tooting High Street/Upper Tooting Road/Balham High Road including the installation of wands to segregate cycle lanes, a number of turning restrictions as well as changes to bus stops.
These changes have come about as a result of statutory guidance that the Government issued in May, stating that local authorities were expected to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians “as swiftly as possible”. (If you would like to read more about this statutory guidance you can read it in full here.)
As a result, TfL made £55m of funding available to the 33 councils in London as part of its “Streetspace for London” programme to urgently create new segregated cycle lanes, extend pavements and close roads to traffic. Wandsworth Council was given £1,923,500 by TfL and used this money to implement the LTNs. TfL has, in consultation with Wandsworth Council but acting separately, implemented changes to the A24.
I am supportive of initiatives which reduce car usage, make our streets safer, encourage cycling and create a better local environment. But we must make it work for everyone in Tooting and Balham.
I know that lots of local residents have concerns and comments about how the changes have affected our community. The only way to have your voice heard is to feed into the consultations that Wandsworth Council is running and to let TfL know what you think by emailing them.
To respond to Wandsworth Council's consultation, click here.
To provide feedback to TfL please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important to note that I was not consulted prior to the implementation of these changes to our roads and I have no control over the decisions that have been made. As the local MP, I can lobby the Government and the relevant Ministers, but I cannot make decisions for the Conservative Council. I am listening and engaging with local residents on this but I cannot make alterations to these changes.
If you have already provided your feedback to Wandsworth Council's consultation and/or emailed TfL, and you want to raise your concerns with other officials, you may also wish to contact Wandsworth Council's Transport spokesperson Councillor John Locker via email at Cllr.J.Locker@Wandsworth.gov.uk, or the Government's Minister of State with responsibility for cycling and walking Chris Heaton-Harris MP via email at email@example.com