|Wandsworth Council exposed on street party costs|
|Thursday, 23 July 2009 11:35|
There's a great article in the Wandsworth Guardian this morning exposing Wandsworth Council's apparent attempts to profiteer from the excellent Big Lunches that were held throughout the borough on Sunday.
I've taken the liberty of copying the text of the article below.
Wandsworth Council 'profiteered' from Big Lunch street parties
6:50am Thursday 23rd July 2009
Tight-fisted Wandsworth Council has been accused of profiteering from community street parties held across the borough on Sunday after residents were charged more than £1,000 in unexplained costs.
While other south London boroughs waived costs for The Big Lunch, a national event aiming to boost community spirit, Wandsworth residents were charged £1,250 to close their roads.
In an email to organisers, the council claimed most of this money was for advertising the closures in the Wandsworth Guardian, but we can reveal the notices they placed cost a fraction of this sum.
One resident who queried the high cost of the road closures was accidentally copied in to an email from a Wandsworth councillor to a council officer which said: “She basically wants it for free, she isn't going to get it. I know Haringey are charging, and so does she.”
Jo White, 38, from Fernside Road, said: “We have just been taken the piss out of really. It’s embarrassing to think our council behaves like that. I’m embarrassed that they are representing us.
“They should have been helping us get together, and not using it as a commercial way of making money.”
When residents first approached the council, they were told to pay a massive £1,250 per road but after intervention from Tooting MP Sadiq Khan, this fee was spread across the six roads taking part.
Although the two road closure advertisments cost just £98.12 each, residents were told the price would be £800, on top of £250 for “administration” and a further unexplained £200.
Mr Khan said: “For many of the streets this was the first street party ever, for others the first since the silver jubilee in 1977, or even VE day in 1945.”
He added: “Wandsworth Council should not be trying to make a profit from community cohesion.”
Despite the struggle, the event was a huge success, with hundreds turning out to meet neighbours, munch on home-made treats and enjoy the sunshine.
The events, coordinated by the founders of the Eden Project, took place in Bridgford Street in Wandsworth, Cloudesdale Road and Fernside Road in Balham, Galverston Road and Weiss Road in Putney and Salterfold Road in Tooting.
A council spokesman said: "We are investigating these complaints as a matter of urgency.
"We are also conducting an immediate and full review of these charges with the aim of reducing costs to the public.
"We warmly welcome and support these community initiatives. They are a great way for neighbourhoods to come together and broaden social contacts.
“Our review will be looking at ways of encouraging more of this type of event by making them more affordable for local communities."
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