Friday, 30 November 2012

New signal strategy at Mitcham Lane/ Streatham High Road/Tooting Bec Gardens

Further to TfL's promise of a review of safety next year at the junction of Streatham High Road, Mitcham Lane and Tooting Bec Gardens, there has been some further news.

Following some good work by Green Assembly member Darren Johnson on behalf of a local Streathamite, TfL has promised that:

"a new signal strategy will be implemented at this location to improve traffic conditions in the area. Please be assured we will monitor this junction closely to ensure the new signalling has the desired effect."

A timescale wasn't given, but the implication is that this will take place soon.

Local people will have observed the build up of traffic at this location recently, probably due to the closure of the Greyhound Lane Bridge. Let's hope that the new signal strategy helps to ease the congestion.

Streatham Christmas Lights Switch On tonight - Friday 30th November

The Streatham Christmas Lights Switch On takes place tonight outside the Odeon Cinema.

This is a community event for everyone which runs from 3.30pm to 4.40pm (so children and parents/ carers from the local primaries will have to get their skates on after school pickup!)

We are told there will be some great freebies on offer including mince pies and 'babychinos'). There will also be music from local children.

There was a concern that there wouldn't be any tree this year as Lambeth Council didn't stump up the money. But local businesses El Chicos Mexican Cocktail Bar, the Streatham Odeon cinema, Foxtons, Bar 61, Vale Veterinary Clinic and Nando’s have provided some much needed funding. Network Rail have also provided some cash (possibly keen to improve their image given what is going on at Greyhound Lane) and Sainsburys too, as they face the prospect of the new mega Tescos arriving in Streatham.

The Council may not have provided the money for the tree, but the switch on will feature Lambeth Mayor Clive Bennett and Chuka Umunna MP.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Free Family Fun Day at Gracefield Gardens - Friday 14th December

There will be a free Family Fun Day at Gracefield Gardens Health Centre on Friday 14th December from 10am to 4pm (thanks to Mel Larsen for the information)

It is being billed as an "enjoyable and relaxing, stress-free and healthy day for the whole family."

Activities will include:

• workshops, talks, classes, stalls and massage

• health checks – check your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol

• light refreshments – grab some tea and a snack, relax in the courtyard

• a prize draw: your chance to win a trip on the London Eye and other great prizes

• stalls - showcasing the different health services offered, including smoking cessation

• Dr Bike. Bring your bike along for a free fix up.

Entry and all activities are free.

Address: 2-8 Gracefield Gardens, Streatham, London SW16 2ST

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Streatham Green Artisans' Market

Some more information emerged at the Friends of Streatham Green meeting on Monday night, about the new Artisans market next to Streatham Green, which will launch on Sunday 16th December.

The new street market - officially Streatham Green Artisans' Market - will take place next to Streatham Green (not on the Green itself) on the corner of Babington Road and Mitcham Lane by the Manor Arms. It will launch with a ‘Christmas market’ on Sunday 16th December, 10am – 3pm. It will then take place twice a month (on the first and third Sundays each month) from January.

There is a website now live here.

The artisan market will be a kind of farmers market meets crafts market, featuring farm produce, fine foods and local crafts, based on Abbeville Farmer's market in Clapham, but with a more 'Streatham' feel. Around 15 stalls are expected for the first event, with 75% of them having fresh produce.

There will also be the chance for local people and businesses to have stalls, and there is also the possibility of local community groups having free space there to let people know what they do.

We asked whether there could also be links made with local food banks and similar projects, so that the produce left over at the end isn't wasted. This is being followed up now to see what is possible.

A number of questions were asked at the meeting about whether local residents were being adequately informed about access to Babington Road during the market, and potential parking implications, as well as the possible impact of refuse and arrangements for clearing up afterwards. This is the responsibility of Lambeth Council. Experience from other similar markets in Herne Hill suggests however that 90% of people walk or cycle to the markets.

There are also apparently plans for the area at the end of Babington Road, where the market will take place, to raised and flattened in June 2013.

There will also be a twitter feed: @londonarti and a Facebook page

Thursday, 22 November 2012

TfL announce safety study of junction at Mitcham Lane/ Streatham High Road/ Tooting Bec Gardens

A number of local people have told us they are concerned about safety at the junction of Mitcham Lane/ Tooting Bec Gardens/ Streatham High Road.

This was the scene of a nasty collision a couple of weeks ago.

There has also been one pedestrian death there in recent years (just to the south of the junction on Streatham High Road).

Of particular concern is the crossing at the South of the junction which runs between the Manna Christian Bookshop and the Time2Move estate agents. This has no Red Man/ Green Man crossing indicator. Neither does the traffic seem to stop at any point for pedestrians, due to the way the lights at the junction are phased.

Transport for London has responsibility for the junction, as it is a Red Route.

The good news is that we have just been told that this junction has been put forward for a traffic and safety study so TfL can "understand the issues on this stretch of the network".

TfL will also undertake analysis of collision data here for the 36 months preceding the study and create a recommendation as to what scheme, if any, is appropriate at this junction.

However the bad news is that this will not be carried out until April 2013. In an email to me they said:

"TfL takes the concern of the public very seriously and it is regrettable that this study cannot be undertaken sooner, however at present there are issues on the network which require immediate attention and this is the earliest date at which this study can be undertaken."

I have asked how local people can input into this study/ review, and will post an update here when I get a response.

[Update 28/11/12. An email from TfL has been received with the following information:

"...we are due to undertake a study at the junction in question in April 2013, and from this we will assess the need for a scheme at this location. Should it be felt that there is a need for an improvement programme, a brief will be put forward to senior management who must approve the principles of the scheme before progressing onto the design phase.

"TfL believe that it is important to listen to the views, ideas and experiences of local residents and would be prepared to consult with yourself and others via the appropriate and necessary channels once a decision is made as to whether or not to progress with a scheme here, this will be decided in the months following the study.

"We would be happy to discuss with you over the phone at a later date or arrange a meeting with yourself and other local residents."

If you want to be involved in this please get in touch with me: jonathan.bartley (at) ]

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Tescos pays "equivalent" to Living Wage if employees on minimum wage spend £511 a Tesco

We have now finally received figures from Tesco in its attempt to substantiate its claim, made at the public meeting last week regarding the new Streatham Tesco megastore, that it pays "the equivalent" of the London Living Wage.

By way of background, the claim was made by Matthew Magee, (@TescoLondon) Regional Corporate Affairs Manager, following my question to him. I asked him to confirm that Tesco would pay workers in Streatham the London Living Wage - set at £8.55 to reflect the wage that a person needs to meet basic needs in the capital.

Tesco notoriously pays its cleaning staff the minimum wage (currently £6.19 for an over 21 year old). But the claim was made by Tesco's representative at the public meeting at the Streatham Hideaway, that with all the benefits that Tesco staff receive, they get the "equivalent" of the London Living Wage.

The benefits listed by Matthew Magee now provided to support this claim are as follows:

An 11% pension contribution (which doesn't count because a pension is paid to everyone who receives the Living Wage by law, and even a generous pension does nothing for a person's standard of living now, which is what the Living Wage is all about)

A 3.6% annual bonus, equivalent to an extra 22p an hour (but this is not payable for another four years so again has no impact on day to day living)

A 10% discount card for products at Tesco.

...and that's it.

But let's be generous to Tesco here. What if the money from such benefits were available now? The 11% pension contribution and 3.6% annual bonus would only bring a cleaners salary up to an "equivalent" £7.09 an hour. This means that if you are employed full time (35 hours a week) you'd have to make up the shortfall through the benefit of the discount card. That means spending £511 each week at Tesco in order to get the extra £51.11 benefit via the 10% discount.

Quite where Tesco they expect someone on the minimum wage to get £511 each week to spend at Tesco isn't, as yet, clear.

In the interests of transparency and fairness, here is the email from Matt in full:


I hope you are well. As promised I’ve put below some detail on our pay. It demonstrates that our employees receive a good and fair salary, and why we are proud of our employment credentials.

Before that, however, I would like you to understand our perspective on this issue, and I hope that you respond with balance in the piece which you do publish. By engaging on this topic, we are being brought publically into an issue on which we compare very favourably against our competitors.

I would ask, therefore, that you do not cherry pick the information from this email, but rather report holistically on our employment credentials.

Firstly, our base rate of pay is the best in the industry. Ranging from 4.5% to 12.5% more (averaging 7% higher), we reward our staff with better pay than M&S, Iceland, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrison, Waitrose and Coop.

In 2010 we increased our under 18 pay to match adult pay.

We have the best benefits package in the industry. As you will know, statutory pension employer contribution is currently 1%, rising to 3% when auto-enrolment (workplace pensions) comes into full effect - our pension contribution is 11%. We consistently win awards for our pensions package, which is the one of only 4 defined benefits pension schemes in the Ftse 100. In fact, in September this year we won the top accolade at the Pension Scheme of the Year awards.

We provide a 10% staff discount card, and this year all UK staff were awarded a bonus of 3.6% of salary to be paid in cash from 2015, provided they are still working for Tesco.

We have an industry-leading partnership with USDAW. In fact, USDAW said that as a business, Tesco ‘offers some of the best terms and conditions (including pay) for its staff.’

I hope you can see that we have strong employment credentials. Not only do we employ more people than any other private sector employer, we also pay the most of the retailers and have the best benefits package. I would argue that we do pay equivalent to the living wage when viewed in its entirety, are the certainly the closest retailer to paying it in base pay alone.


Meeting tonight (Wednesday) for local businesses regarding Greyhound Lane/ Streatham Common Station bridge closure

There's a meeting tonight at The Railway Pub SW16 for local businesses who have been impacted by the Greyhound Lane Bridge Closure.

The meeting is at 7.00pm. All local business owners are welcome to attend.

You can see our recent updates on the situation here and here.

There is also a twitter feed for updates: @StreathamBridge

Monday, 19 November 2012

Future of Streatham Library - Open day 24th November

Several community groups are involved in consulting local people about the future of Streatham Library.

There will be an open day at Streatham Library itself, this Saturday (24th November) from 10.00am till 4.00pm setting out some of the questions being asked about its future use.

It comes after several hundred thousand pounds of funding was secured from the Mayor's Outer London Fund. There is now an opportunity to make use of this funding to make a substantial investment to secure the future use of the library as well as dealing with the backlog of repairs to the building following years of under-investment by successive council administrations. Friends of Streatham Library, the Streatham Society and Streatham Action would like to hear your views on what should happen to the space.

Bisset Adams architects have been appointed to look at options for:

1. Restoration and refurbishment of the Library

2. The future use of the Library

3. The future use of the ‘Tudor Hall’ next door in Pinfold Road (currently the IT training centre) and

4. The space that Lambeth Council uses at the Gracefield Gardens Centre around the corner.

This is the existing layout (click on the image for a larger view):

These are the questions that the community is being asked about the space (click on the image for a larger view:

Suggestions have been made that the combined Library and Tudor Hall could house a wider range of arts and community uses - from a small studio theatre to exhibition space to meeting rooms and space for adult education classes. Lambeth Council and the Friends of Streatham Library in particular want to hear the ideas and opinions of local residents for the future use of the buildings.

Local people can drop in at the library any time during the open day on Saturday between 10.00am and 4.00pm to talk to the design team and discuss the ideas.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Update: Streatham Common Train Station and Greyhound Lane

We promised to keep you updated on developments on the Greyhound Lane Bridge Closure.

The following may be useful:

1) The next public meeting is 6th December, 7pm at Granton Primary School, Granton Road, Streatham, SW16 5AN.

2) We have heard from Network Rail's community relations manager John Eccles. He has told us that they have established a website with news about the works, which will be regularly updated. You can see it here:

3. There is also a Network Rail Helpline: 08457 11 41 41. This can be used to contact John Eccles.

4. They have also put together a leaflet which you can see here.

5. Lambeth Council have set up a news item link, for the latest news and updates however, I notice it has not been updated at the time of writing this blog:

6. For detailed maps of diversions click here

7. Any questions you have to Lambeth, can be sent to their dedicated email address:

8. There is a dedicated Facebook page here!/GreyhoundLaneStreathamValeGroupPage

9. We are still waiting on Cllr Mark Bennett for an explanation about the failings of proper consultation on this bridge closure by Lambeth Council. As soon as we have that, we will let you know. (I have emailed Cllr Bennett again to ask for this)

10. We have asked Lambeth to check the pollution levels in the area and for an update on road safety concerns raised at the last public meeting.

If you have any concerns that we can help with please contact or call 020 8769 9133.

You can also see our previous update here

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Update on Tesco Hub development

A quick update on some of the key points from last nights public meeting at the Hideaway regarding the Tesco Hub Development, at which representative from Tesco, Vinci construction and Lambeth Council were present. This isn't exhaustive, and i'll update and link to information as others post it. (You can see the report from the last public meeting here).

1. Tesco won't be paying a London Living Wage to employees (more details here).

2. The new store will be open 24 hours a day. Concerns were expressed about the anti-social consequences experienced at other 24 hour Tesco stores such as Thornton Heath.

3. There are still no plans by Lambeth Council to have a sauna and steam room in the new leisure centre, despite the promise that was made of a like-for-like replacement.

4. Cars have been scraped and damaged by lorries working on the development on Natal Road. Cracks have appeared in the premises of local businesses because of the vibrations from the work at the site. Vinci construction said that local people had to provide proof it was their workers/ contractors which had done the damage.

5. None of the representatives present had any information on the impact of increased air pollution caused by 600 new parking spaces and an extra lane of traffic being put in outside, and what action (if any) is being taken to mitigate it. (Air pollution is the cause of 4,600 premature deaths in London each year, and a major problem on Streatham High Road). Peter Muncaster who is the public liaison said that he would raise this issue with Lambeth Planning. Streatham Green Party will raised it as well.

6. There was no information available on whether new provision for cyclists is being introduced along with the increase in traffic.

7. Tesco suggested that although there would be an increase in traffic around the new Tesco superstore, there would be a "net decrease" more widely.

8. There is ongoing concern about the detrimental impact on new local businesses when the new Tesco opens.

9. There was concern that Section 106 money would not be spent on the area immediately around the development, but would be used for other things.

10. There were questions about the rise in costs. It was confirmed that there had been a recent increase of a quarter of a million pounds.

11. The development is on track for completion in November 2013.

12. Information about the size of any new public space in front of the development was not available.

13. The United Reformed Church, at the centre of the development, is concerned about the location of the entrance.

14. Only 200 newsletters on the progress at the hub are being distributed to local people. Many present said they hadn't received one but wanted to. There is an email list to sign up to. Vinci promised that information would be circulated more widely.

We will be following up these issues with the relevant people at Lambeth, Vinci and Tesco.

Tesco say they won't pay London Living Wage at new Streatham store

At last night's public meeting at the Hideaway regarding the progress on the Tesco Hub development, the representative from the supermarket talked about the new jobs it hoped would come to the area as a result of the 24 hour mega-store.

What the net effect will be on employment remains to be seen (there are major concerns that small business on the High Road will suffer further as a result of the competition, as well as employment at other local supermarkets). Certainly, research by the NEF suggests that big chain stores take money out of the local economy.

I got the opportunity to ask about the quality of the new jobs, and specifically whether employees and contractors would be paid the London Living Wage. This is the minimum income considered necessary for a worker to meet basic needs (for an extended period of time or for a lifetime). It is set by the Greater London Authority, and currently stands at £8.55 an hour.

This is of particular interest as we got Lambeth Council to commit to pay the Living Wage to its employees (and finally this year contractors too). But we also discovered that Lambeth had failed to get any reassurances from Tesco in Streatham. This is of particular concern given Tesco's track employment track record of low pay for its workers.

When I asked Tesco last night whether it would commit to paying the London Living Wage it said it would not. What it said however was that the benefits and perks that employees received were "equivalent" to the London Living Wage - in particular its "bonus" scheme for employees.

I have asked Matthew Magee, (@TescoLondon) Regional Corporate Affairs Manager for Tesco, for details about how they calculate this and reach this conclusion. I will update this blog when I receive a response.

However some investigation reveals that the typical bonuses that are given to the lowest paid employees are in the region of £100 a year. For a cleaner on the minimum wage working full time, this equates to around an extra 5p an hour. But that is not the end of the story. The bonus is not earned until an employee has worked there for a year, and even then, the money cannot be accessed for five years. This is in no way equivalent to a London Living Wage. (As an aside, Staff annual turnover at Tesco tends to be around 30%).

Pension contributions can't be considered either as making up an "equivalent" to the Living Wage, as these are a statutory responsibility paid to those on the Living Wage, and are considered in addition to the way the Living Wage is calculated.

So it is very hard to see how this claim by Tesco can be substantiated. When I receive their figures, I will reproduce them below.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

St Leonard's Ward Safer Neighbourhood Team December meetings

St Leonard’s Safer Neighbourhood Team will be holding two street briefings in December.

These are outdoor events, which any local resident can attend to find out more about safety and security in the local area.

The first is from 7.00pm – 7.30pm Tuesday 4th December at the corner of Thirlmere Road and Rydal Road.

The second is 3.00pm – 3.30pm on Friday 14th December at the junction of Mitcham Lane and Fernwood Avenue.

They will also be holding a drop-in surgery at the Wimpy on Streatham High Road on Thursday 20th December from 7.00pm to 8.00pm.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Streatham Green market

The market that local people in Streatham have been waiting for is finally to be launched in December.

The new street market - officially Streatham Green Artisans' Market - will take place next to Streatham Green on the corner of Babington Road and Mitcham Lane by the Manor Arms. It will launch with a ‘Christmas market’ on Sunday 16th December, 10am – 3pm.

The artisan market looks as if it will be a kind of farmers market meets crafts market, featuring farm produce, fine foods and local crafts, based on Abbeville Farmer's market in Clapham, but with a more 'Streatham' feel.

The timing couldn't be better with the forced closure of Streatham Vale Farmer's market due to the Greyhound Lane Bridge closure.

A website is apparently in the process of being constructed. There will also be a twitter feed: @StreathamArty and a Facebook page: (NB These have not been set up at the time of writing!)

More information is available by emailing Joel Northcott: abbevillefarmers (at)

[Update 28/11/12: Website now here. ]