Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Prince and his toothache

Having read the last edition of the Transition Free Press, it reminded me of the importance of story telling in the context of Transitioning, and how we discuss change.

With this in mind, and my recent safer streets campaigns in Tooting the following story came to mind.

As with many fairy tales, it starts in a familiar fashion:

Once upon a time in a magical kingdom lived a prince who reigned over all he saw. He was blessed with a kingdom of abundant food, the people lived in peace, and life was full of happiness for his subjects.

However, the prince had one weakness, he had a very sweet tooth. Living in this land of plenty and such a wonderful choice of food always on offer, including pastries, cakes, tarts and sweet drinks.

Before long the prince's sweet tooth was causing him problems. Fortunately he had access to wonderful dentists, and along he went for a visit.

The dentist welcomed the prince into his practise, and went about inspecting the prince's teeth.

"Oh dear," exclaimed the dentist, "this really doesn't look too good!"

The dentist went on to treat the prince's teeth as best he could. However, knowing that the real cause of the problems was the sweet tooth that the prince has, he recommended that the prince reduce the amount of sweet foods and drinks he was consuming.

The Prince having had his teeth seen to and 'fixed' for the time-being, soon forgot about his toothache and the advice given to him by the dentist.

Before long the toothache returned, and another visit to the dentist followed. This cycle repeated, until the prince grew tired of listening to the dentist. The toothache had become permanent, and the prince could no longer remember what life was like beforehand.

The toothache made for a grumpy prince who could no longer see the beauty in and around him. However, the prince did have a council of wise men who all had teeth. So, as the advice of the dentist wasn't to the prince's liking, he asked his wise men what would they recommend. The wise men knew that the real solution was that proposed by the dentist, they also knew that the prince didn't want to hear that solution.

Years passed with different ideas being tried. The wise men, after all, had a lot of teeth between them, surely they would know an answer. There was trouble now brewing in the kingdom. As people looked up to the prince, they too had chosen to ignore the advice of the dentist, and many more people were suffering with toothache.

One day a traveller was visiting from a similar kingdom, and saw the terrible suffering that these people were living with. The traveller was puzzled, as in almost every respect this kingdom was identical to the one he had come from. The difference was that his prince had listened to the dentist. The traveller had heard the tales of how all the different ideas had been tried (except that recommended by the dentist), and he came up with an idea.

He sought an audience with the Prince, claiming to be able to solve the toothache once and for all. To do so, the Prince would need to trust him, and do something that had never been done before.

The Prince after years of having suffered, and having seen his people suffered, acquiesced to the traveller's demands. The traveller asked the Prince to give the Dentist's solution a chance, to try it for a short period of time. After all, every other 'solution' had already been tried, so what did the Prince have to lose?

The trial was a fantastic success, and the Prince and his subjects were able to rejoice and enjoy the fruits of their kingdom once more and they lived happily ever after.


The Prince represents us, our communities, his toothache the problems that motor traffic dominance presents us, the Dentist our highways engineers with evidence based solutions, and the wise men our politicians listening to the demands of the Prince whilst often ignoring the advice of the Dentist.

Hope you enjoyed the story. If anyone fancies doing a little picture to go along with it do drop me a line.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Thank you & don't forget to vote

What a journey this local election campaign has been.

It has been a massive learning curve for me and my team, but I'm really proud of everything that we have achieved.

Whoever the people of Tooting choose to vote for tomorrow, or have already done so with their postal votes, I believe we have made a big contribution to debates locally about creating safer streets, standing up for local people, cleaning up Tooting and boosting local business.

With over 2200 signatures on a range of our safer streets petitions collected since September, I know it's not just me who can see the issues on our local streets. It is easy to point the finger at problems. The real challenge is how to fix them.

I don't believe that disagreements on the perfect solution should mean that we don't even try. For too many years that has been the case. Creating safer streets has many benefits, and if you haven't seen this video link before, then I'd highly recommend you watch it. Only 6 mins of your time:

If the Youtube link doesn't work you can see it via this link instead:

If you live locally, I hope that I and my team will be able to count on your vote. Come what may after the count, rest assured, we will raise the issues you've mentioned to us on the doorstep with council officers, and we will continue to champion Tooting working hard to improve it for everyone whichever political party you choose to vote for.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Will you support me, again?

Yes, this is party political, but let me explain.

If you follow this blog or my twitter feed, you'll already know that I'm standing as a candidate for the Lib Dems in Tooting. On Saturday Brian Paddick came down to join me and my team door knocking around the ward.

Leaving party politics aside, you know I really want safer streets in Tooting. I've been campaigning for it through local groups for years now. One of the main motivations for me to stand, was the frustration at the very real blocks that both local Labour councillors and Conservative ones have put in the way of real progress to make a real difference to our streets.

So, whatever your party affiliation, if you share my desire to see real change to make the streets of Tooting safer sooner, then can you lend me your vote? We've had over 2200 people sign a bunch of safer streets petitions since last September. Neither Labour or the Conservatives have backed them. No wonder that people don't believe politicians when they say they support making the streets safer, but then the ones we've had representing us haven't delivered any meaningful change for years.

I'd really appreciate it, and I promise if elected I'll deliver on making our streets safer for everyone.

Let me know via this form.