Muhammad, Steve and I have had lots of casework to keep us busy this autumn. Here is an update on some of what your ward councillors have been up to and some items we think you might find of interest:
Redevelopment of Lidl Store in Beddington Gardens
Lidl have alerted residents informally of their plans to redevelop their Wallington store. We had been advised that their aims were to improve the look of the store, improve the customer experience, and expand the parking facilities. To do this they propose underground parking with access moved to the right hand side of the store, and it would necessitate the demolition of the existing building. The new building would also incorporate some flats on top to provide much needed residential accommodation for the borough. We saw that a planning application went in in December, but has now been withdrawn. We understand that new management at Lidl have changed the plans for the store and so the application is being redrafted to take account of that. We will keep you informed.
Not only does flyposting look untidy, it can cause problems with sightlines for motorists at junctions such as here in Ross Parade. We have been reporting any flyposting we come across to get it removed and so the council can advise the culprits that it is an offence to flypost. I am on a mission removing out of date planning notifications from lampposts as they look so scrappy.
Faulty traffic lights
We noticed that the green light at the Sainsburys junction on Stafford Road with Woodcote Road had not been working for some time. We reported this to Transport for London who have responsibility for traffic lights and it has now been repaired.
There were panels missing from the bus shelter in Woodcote Road which meant it was useless at sheltering waiting bus passengers from the elements. We contacted Transport for London asking for panels to be reinstated, which they have now done. Tom Brake your MP has also asked for benches to be put in and we hope to see this implemented soon.
Parking issues and enforcement requests
Obstructive parking is one of the most regular complaints we hear about as your ward councillors. In the past few months we have been asked for additional parking enforcement patrols in Beddington Gardens due to parents blocking access in the vicinity of Bandon Hill Primary School; in Ross Road in connection with the Nursery there; and in the area around Wallington Girls School. We are currently liaising with residents and the nursery in Ross Road to see if solutions can be found, and as part of a bigger strategic approach the council will be doing work over the next four years looking at how the parking pressures the borough faces might be alleviated, possibly through controlled parking zones. Any proposals will be worked up and consulted on with residents, and have a range of options that can be tailored to fit the problem.
Fixing bollards and other obstructions
We were alerted to and secured repair/replacement of the bollards at Bridge Road off Clarendon Road, and at the Shotfield entrance to the library. We also continue to report any wobbly kerbstones, overgrown hedges and flytipping we come across.
Local Flooding Issues
We advised you of local flooding issues as a result of the June downpours. As a result the council has secured some funding to look into ways to reduce the flooding issues at the railway bridge in Demesne Road.
We have been monitoring and assisting residents with a number of planning applications including opposing backgarden development at 109 Boundary Road, rear of 13-23 Boundary Road and in Woodcote Avenue; advising on residential conversions in Holmwood Gardens and Woodcote Avenue; providing information on the St Bernadett’s application and advising Wallington Girls’ School on their application to improve their library.
Please note that Muhammad does not get involved in ward planning applications as he is a member of the Planning Committee at the council. This ensures that he fulfils his obligations to view each application brought to the committee with an open mind and without pre-determination.
Road safety measures
We have assisted local residents in petitioning for speed reduction measures in Clyde Road and yellow lines at the junctions with Carew Road and Ross Road. The petition will be formally presented by residents to the Beddington & Wallington Local Committee on 10th January when we hope that the committee will agree to look into these matters.
We also previously secured funding from the same committee to make safety improvements in Elgin Road and we have been working with residents to decide what measures would be best within the limited budget. We have also arranged for improved signage in respect of the one-way stretch of Boundary Road, and yellow lining at pinch points in Woodcote Road. Residents have called for a one-way scheme to be implemented in Tharp Road and we are supporting residents in the surrounding area in calling for a study of the consequential traffic impacts before any scheme is agreed.
Working with the Wallington Community
We are very lucky in Wallington to have such community-minded businesses and residents with lots of bright ideas for bringing people together. We have therefore been very pleased to assist in the Festive Lights Switch-on and the Spirit of Wallington Awards delivered by the Wallington Facebook Group. Both events were well attended and well received. There are more plans for the new year including a repeat of the fantastic music festival, and hopefully something sports-related. Watch this space! We have also continued to support the Wallington Community Group which provides information on the wide programme of activities and groups in Wallington available for the over 50s. We also attended the Wallington and Council Remembrance Day services in November.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our residents a very Merry Christmas, a restful holiday period and a Happy New Year
Steve Cook, Jayne McCoy, Muhammad Sadiq
Liberal Democrat Councillors for Wallington South
London Borough of Sutton
Healthwatch Sutton have provided the following useful information:
Find out what health services will be open locally during the festive period. Check up on local pharmacies’ and other NHS services’ opening hours by visiting the NHS Service Search website:http://www.nhs.uk/service-search
Bookmark good online sources of health information, such as NHS Choices, which can offer reassurance and allow you to confidently manage a health problem. Useful information on when to seek help for a variety of health complaints is also available from the Self Care Forum, at http://www.selfcareforum.org/fact-sheets/
NHS 111 can help you if you’re not sure which service to use. It is open 24/7, 365 days a year and is staffed by a team of fully trained advisers, supported by experienced nurses and paramedics. Staff can also help you with health information and provide reassurance about what to do next
Why not download the Health Help Now app, which contains a wealth of expert advice on keeping well? This NHS app has information on which local services are open, including pharmacies able to supply an emergency prescription. Visit the Health Help Now website at www.healthhelpnow.nhs.uk or download the app from Google Play or app stores
The lovely Wallington Arms is once again inviting our local senior residents to celebrate Christmas with them on Tuesday 20th December at 1pm. The pub will be providing a free festive lunch for Wallington’s older people.
Please do call and reserve your place so the pub knows how many to expect: call 0208 773 0404.
Since the Wallington Arms took up residence in Wallington it has put on a number of free lunch events for our older residents that have been well attended and much appreciated.
This week Cllr Ruth Dombey and I visited Emmaus, the homelessness charity that has taken over the Missionary Mart operations in Wallington.
Based in Lambeth the charity provides not just accommodation for ex-rough sleepers, called ‘Companions’ but a community and work opportunities so they can start to rebuild their lives.
The charity generates income via a social enterprise selling second-hand goods, which is also a source of work for the companions, and other local volunteers.
The charity has also taken on a shop in Carshalton.
Their warehouse in Wallington, 105 Stafford Road, has a wide range of secondhand furniture, bric a brac and clothes. Feel free to pop in and look around, and hopefully make a purchase.
Steve, Jayne and Muhammad are supporting the Save Our Pharmacies campaign.
Earlier this year the Government proposed cutting £170 million funding to pharmacies in 2016/17. This massive cut could lead to the closure of one in four pharmacies – that would mean eleven across the borough of Sutton.
Pharmacies offer a huge range of services to take pressure off GPs and A&E departments — closing them makes no sense.
Please sign our petition calling on the Government to stop these cuts.
The Sutton Liberal Democrats have also proposed a motion for debate at Full Council on Monday demanding that the Government reverses its proposals to cut the funding for pharmacies.
Not only do the Sutton Conservatives appear hopelessly confused over the school sites issue, they apparently enjoy worrying residents unnecessarily, and are quite prepared to use confidential information in order to do so. They have been aided by the Sutton Guardian’s horribly mangled story about Rosehill, which followed the previous week’s speculation that the Croygas Sports Club in Wallington was the preferred site.
To clear matters up here are the facts:
Meeting medium term need on the Sutton Hospital site in Belmont
The Education Department at the council predicted the need for a new secondary school over two years ago, before work on a new Local Plan (Sutton 2031) started. An initial look at sites in the borough capable of delivering a secondary school showed only two possible locations – the ex-Sutton Hospital site at Belmont, and Rosehill Park.
Rosehill Park is Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) and is therefore protected against development except in ‘very special circumstances’. In planning terms this means there must be no alternative non-MOL site.
We were therefore very concerned to learn that the Sutton & Cheam MP Paul Scully declared Rosehill Park the Conservatives’ preferred site, and following that the Government’s Education Funding Department showing an interest in that site.
With a suitable brownfield site available in Belmont it was a very real risk that any secondary school proposed for Rosehill Park would not get planning permission.
The Lib Dem administration therefore agreed that the new secondary school should go on the ex-Sutton Hospital site and started work on making that happen.
The Conservatives either didn’t like or didn’t understand that there are rules and procedures that have to be followed in these matters and instead put out all sorts of misleading claims, including that the site was too small.
The lie in this has been proved with the council ensuring the delivery of the new school by purchasing the site, preparing detailed plans and securing the Harris Federation as the school provider. This all means that there will be school places available for secondary school students when the need arises.
Planning ahead to 2031
The Council’s Local Plan sets out planning policies to manage development in the borough over the next 15 years. It requires a huge amount of evidence and information to predict population numbers and housing and employment need over that period, which then informs the policies and site allocations in the Plan. The first stage of this work setting out the issues the council faces and how they might be addressed was consulted on as ‘Sutton 2031’ earlier this year.
This work showed that over the 15 year period at least two secondary schools will be required. With the site for the first school already secured in Belmont, the Local Plan work helped in identifying a suitable second site.
The Rosehill Park site unsurprisingly remained an option as it had already been identified as of a suitable size for a secondary school. However the consultation feedback on the Local Plan confirmed that borough residents greatly value their parks and open spaces, so that was a double reason to ensure that officers had looked at every possible alternative site before allocating a park for a second school.
Sadly the evidence now shows that there is no alternative brownfield site available, and indeed the only alternatives were other parks.
Less green space lost at Rosehill Park
However, there is some good news, as there has been a change in ownership of the Sports Village, which is located in Rosehill Park, since the original site search. The new owners have indicated that they may be willing to work with the council to ensure the new school is contained within the all-weather pitch and share their facilities which means that there would be less take of green space out of the park than when the site was originally considered.
In the meantime the Conservatives have used leaked evidence-gathering information in order to speculate about other sites like Croygas, that has upset residents and caused harm to local businesses unnecessarily.
The Sutton Lib Dems know that you can’t pick a school site out of a hat, nor are we prepared to lose part of a well-loved park without robust evidence that there is no alternative. And it certainly wasn’t going to be our first choice for a school when a brownfield site, presenting excellent opportunities for our young people due to its co-location with the London Cancer Hub, was available in Belmont.
Next round of consultation
Given the lack of alternative sites for the second school, it is expected that the December Housing, Economy & Business Committee will recommend the allocation of the Rosehill Park site for a secondary school in the draft Local Plan. This draft of the Plan will then go out to public consultation early in 2017 so residents can review the evidence for themselves and feed in their views.
The annual Poppy Planting Ceremony will take place in front of Wallington Old Town Hall on Woodcote Road, Wallington at 9.25am on Saturday 12th November. It will be attended by the Sutton Mayor & Mayoress, Deputy Mayor, Deputy Mayoress & Madam Deputy Mayor.
The Civic Act of Remembrance Service will this year take place at Holy Trinity Church, Maldon Road, Wallington at 10.30am followed by a service at the War Memorial on Wallington Green at 11.30am on Sunday 13th November.
All the work the council does and the decisions it makes are in the public domain and largely accessible through its website. However as this is often embedded in committee reports and paperwork you need to know what you are looking for or put in an FOI.
So in an attempt to make it simpler I thought I would do a series of posts setting out current activities in the areas covered by my committee portfolio – the Housing, Economy & Business Committee.
I have previously posted about Housing, so now it is the turn of ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
All the council’s work to boost the local economy is badged as OPPORTUNITY SUTTON and is overseen by the Opportunity Sutton team.
This area of work is huge so I will have to break it down into parts on separate posts.
EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING
Partnership working for better jobs
The council works closely with JobCentrePlus; local training providers such as Carshalton College, Sutton and District Training, JACE Training, Sutton College and Orchard Hill College; local business representatives including the Sutton Chamber and Successful Sutton; MENCAP; Epsom & St Helier University NHS Trust and SHP, bringing these partners together with council departments covering Education, Revenues and Benefits, Housing Services and Public Health. Together we work at improving the employment opportunities for people living in the borough. As a group we are called the Sutton Economic Support Taskforce which I chair.
Making apprenticeships easy
The Council paid SENSE Communications to set up and run an online Sutton Apprenticeship Hub bringing together information and apprenticeship opportunities all in one place. The Hub is useful for students looking for apprenticeship places, for businesses looking for apprentices, and is full of information about apprenticeships useful to businesses, students, teachers and parents.
Offering council apprenticeships
Sutton Council aims to lead by example by offering a number of quality apprenticeships at the council. It currently employs 12 apprentices and is recruiting for a further 2. We were very proud to see one of our apprentices working in the Opportunity Sutton team achieve the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ awarded by London Borough Councils.
Improved training for local jobs
The council’s Sutton Skills Match programme brings together local businesses, schools and training providers so that employers can advise of the skills and training that is required for them to offer employment to local people. As a result of this relevant information the training providers have adapted their training programmes to better meet the local need, and businesses are working with schools to talk about career pathways. An excellent example of this work is Sutton & District Training taking over the Building Lives program which offers training in construction skills that offer a direct route into work with local construction firms.
Working with schools
The council works closely with local schools helping them with work experience placements and providing special courses to help students be work-ready.
Annual Careers Fair
Each year the council organises a careers fair for young people aged 14 to 24 with the help of the partners above.
Supporting disabled and disadvantaged residents into work
Through the Our Place scheme helping people with mental health conditions and the new DWP Work and Health Programme the council offers targeted interventions to help and support people with barriers to employment get into the workplace. Last year it successfully completed an EU funded scheme to help a number of lone parents into work. The Our Place scheme has now placed 30 people with mental health conditions into paid work with 4 recently achieving a full year of employment.
Developing budding entrepreneurs
The council employs Successful Sutton to provide business training and advice to people thinking of or just getting started with new businesses. Together they are running a special project called POP UP SUTTON providing free monthly stalls in Sutton town centre accompanied by a programme of business advice and support for entrepreneurs wanting to try out their business ideas and products.
Working with local boroughs for a wider employment offer
Sutton is part of the South London Partnership which also includes the boroughs of Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Richmond. Sutton is leading on a programme of work to improve residents’ skills across the five boroughs, drawing on our local experience. This also involves supporting the area based reviews of further education providers. Cllr Ruth Dombey takes the lead on this area in the South London Partnership.
Skilling up residents for London Cancer Hub careers
Together with our partners the council is working to ensure there are opportunities in place offering health, science and social care training so that there is a pool of talent within our local community that the London Cancer Hub can draw on. The potential careers that the London Cancer Hub can offer will be huge and wide ranging and we want local people to be able to get the maximum advantage from having this illustrious campus on their doorstep.
Creating new jobs
Opportunity Sutton is working to attract new businesses to Sutton, and offers help and support to existing businesses so they thrive and grow. In both cases this leads to new job opportunities for local people.
The council reviews its progress in ensuring its residents can find work or training as part of an Economy Watch document that it publishes quarterly. I am pleased to report that Sutton has higher than average economically active residents at 82% of the population, and increasing. The number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance is on a downward trend across all age ranges, and there is an increasing number of business start ups.