Difficult time for the Council as they receive a damning report

Author: Cyril Richert

Wandsworth Council has just received a damning report from Ofsted saying that vulnerable young people are being put at risk by “serious failings” in children’s services and that “there was a lack of effective scrutiny by senior leaders, elected members and managers” (read article from the Evening Standard HERE). But the worse might be that the Council’s self-assessment last June found most services as good.

That could be the most worrying, wrote a former Tory councillor, as showing a “cultural problem in which the belief that Wandsworth is a top-performing council overrides evidence to the contrary“.

And indeed, this seems to be the norm as the Tory-led council is so sure of their rightdoing that they ignore any evidence showing the opposite and dismiss without consideration all criticism.

For many years in the past we have been saying that Wandsworth Planning policies were ineffective. The Council has always denied it and went up to calling us Nimbies (choosing to hurl false and groundless allegations around…. yes they said it!) because we dare highlight facts. And yes, they are not our own fantasy, but those allegations were actually confirmed by a government inspector in charge of reviewing Wandsworth Local Plan: “the documents as a whole are ineffective” he wrote at the end of July. We were right. Is the Council going to apologise?

In the same way, we complained many times that so-called consultations were only box-ticking exercises for the Council. In December 2014 we wrote to the Council:

“As usual, we noticed (and regret) that most of the comments made by the residents, groups and societies have been rejected or ignored in your responses to the 2013 consultation; it questions, once more, the purpose of the full process, other than ticking the right box at the right time.”

Recent debates within the Council chamber have once again proven us correct. When the Council decided to run its own poll on its website and was eventually displeased by the result, they decided it was irrelevant regarding the entire population of the borough. Cllr Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, made this cynical remark:

“62% of the 1,366 respondents to the Council’s survey expressed this view – not 62% of residents. That equates to 847 people. As a percentage of the Borough’s population of around 310,000, that is 0.27%”.

The leader of Wandsworth Council, Cllr Govindia, explained that objections to Council’s plans should be reported to the entire borough population, assuming that everyone not objecting is fully supporting the Council!

Following Mr Govindia reasoning, only 21 representations were received regarding the examination of the Council’s planning documents. Which is 0.0068% of the borough’s population. Even Mr Govindia was only elected as a Councillor last May 2014 by only 2134 voters, which mean “as a percentage of the Borough’s population of around 310,000, that is” 0.69%.

Let’s be honest. We will never reach 160000 representations of residents (including new born babies according to Mr Govindia’s calculation!). What’s the point of consultation?

Once again it is a very clear example of the level of consideration that the Conservative majority of Wandsworth Council is giving to consultation and democracy.

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