As regular readers will know, I've been petitioning quite a bit around Tooting of late. The support that I've been getting for my petitions has been fantastic, but not altogether surprising.
The support for my local #saferstreets petitions tallies with a similar support level shown for 20s Plenty across the country. I'm delighted that it seems some of the local Conservatives, and Labour councillors and candidates are now successfully campaigning on 20mph limits.
What frustrates me, is that it seems it takes the approach of a local election to elicit this kind of movement from our current batch of councillors. Over the past few years, I've seen various approaches by local residents asking for our council to take action to make our streets safer fobbed off by officers.
Responses to these calls for action to make local streets safer include:
"No-one has been killed there yet."
"If we made changes there, then we would need to make changes across the borough."
A number of years ago, I would have directed my frustration towards the officers. It's easily done, they are the people writing these letters out to concerned residents, or responding on behalf of the council at committee meetings. Through my campaigning with groups such as Wandsworth Cycling Campaign, Wandsworth Living Streets and the Wandsworth Environment Forum, I've learnt that whilst errors may be made by the officers, all too often the real issue is the political direction they are given to work under. I also know that the key figures on the relevant committees are aware of both the problems and viable solutions. They are the gatekeepers to allowing or inhibiting any changes to our streets.
The Conservative policies, seemingly approved by Labour councillors, mean that without change more people writing to our council asking for safer streets might be asked to wait for someone to be killed before meaningful action will be taken.
I'm campaigning locally now with the Lib Dems, as I believe that we need a fresh approach to local politics in Tooting and in Wandsworth. Do get in touch if you'd like to help.