David Cameron’s Localism Advisor urges Surrey Lane Estate to “declare independence from Council”

Ten Surrey Lane People’s Organisation (SLPO) leaders joined our alliance members at the Wandsworth Citizens assembly on Wednesday – as the SLPO formally applied as a Neighbourhood Forum under the Localism Act 2011.

Leaders from the SLPO gave testimony on their experiences dealing with Wandsworth Council’s Housing Department, stating that the Council’s systems are not fit for purpose. They want the People’s Organisation to be recognised as the voice of the Surrey Lane Estate, and take further steps implementing the Localism agenda in Wandsworth.

Special guests included Phillip Blond – known as David Cameron’s “Big Society guru” and Director of think-tank Respublica, and Prof. Jane Wills – prominent academic on Localism. Earlier in the day, they toured the Surrey Lane, Winstanley and York Road Estates, seeing the work done so far promoting Localism.

Prof. Jane Wills said that the simple actions of doorknocking, putting up notices in communal area and forming residents associations in estates with community backing is itself “radical”, and hoped to continue following the progress made.

Phillip Blond argued that what he had seen on the Surrey Lane, Winstanley and York Road Estates demonstrated that the Council was ineffective. Tweeting to his 11,000+ followers throughout the day, he likened Wandsworth Council’s approach as “Soviet-era”. He then urged the estates to “declare independence from the Council”, suggesting The Right to Parish and mutual companies as localism vehicles for this.

Simon Butler, the Vicar of St Mary’s Church in Battersea, said, “Jane and Phillip were clearly inspired by what they saw of SLPO and the work that’s going on and, in turn, they inspired me. As I think more about the exciting and challenging things ahead, it has made me feel more that working together as SLPO and the local church has a great amount to offer in bringing real and meaningful change to our neighbourhood and Estate.”

Carol Scott, Chair of Fraser and Wigram RA, said, “So glad to have been at the Wandsworth Citizens Borough Action meeting on 6th March, Phillip Blond’s speech was enlightening and ratified my thoughts that the SLPO can choose their own destiny”

The assembly also agreed on campaigns ranging from Living Wage, Healthy Estates to Community Safety for the coming year.

Phillip Blond touring the Surrey Lane Estate with the SLPO and Wandsworth Citizens

Wandsworth Citizens Assembly with 86 leaders in attendance

Phillip Blond talking with Sam Sunday

Photos by Jasper Kain


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