Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Support for businesses affected by Coronavirus

  Cllr Jayne McCoy

  Deputy Leader and Chair of Housing,
  Economy & Business Committee

 

The government has announced a number of financial support schemes to help businesses affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

Sutton council will be implementing many of these schemes through its responsibility for collecting business rates.

Many of the business rate reliefs and grants will be applied automatically, especially for businesses already registered to receive small business relief. Now is a good time to check your eligibility for any small business reliefs so that you will also be registered for any additional reliefs applied due to Covid-19.

The reliefs and grants are expected to be applied from 1st April.

There are also financial support grants to enable staff retention and business interruption loans for SMEs. You should contact your bank to access the loan scheme and HMRC regarding a staff retention grant.

VAT and Income Tax payments are being deferred by three months from their due date. Self-employed payments due in July 2020 are deferred until January 2021.

I am aware that much of the support is not available, or as generous, for those who are self-employed or who work in the gig economy. I have therefore added my name to a letter to Government from London Council business portfolio holders calling for additional support specifically for the self-employed.

Until additional measures are introduced self-employed people affected by the virus and restrictions are advised to claim Universal Credit or the new Employment and Support Allowance.

More information on the financial support for businesses is available on the Sutton Council website: https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200588/health_and_wellbeing/2078/covid-19_coronavirus/13

 

Tell me what more you need from Government

The financial support for businesses offered by the government at this incredibly difficult time is welcome. However, I want to hear from businesses about whether the support is sufficient, understandable and easily accessible. Please take a couple of minutes to complete this business survey which will be used as evidence to put to government if additional support is required by businesses.

In the meantime stay home, stay safe, stay well.

 

March 25, 2020 Posted by | Information | , , | Leave a comment

Wallington South Ward Councillors’ New Year Update

Ward News

Housing development proposals for local Greenbelt

A developer has been exhibiting proposals to build a care home on Greenbelt land to the rear of Wallington Girls School on the Wallington Nurseries site. Greenbelt land is protected from development that is not agricultural and this protection was strengthened through the council’s Local Plan.

The developer is incorrectly advising residents that planning officers are ‘positive’ about the proposal. In fact the council’s planning team have issued pre-application advice setting out very clearly that a care home is not appropriate development for this site and there are no special circumstances to justify a care home here.

We expect the developers to submit an application despite this so please look out for it and submit your comments on the application.

We will be objecting to any residential development on Greenbelt in our area.

 

Costa application granted at Planning Committee 5th February

The application for change of use to allow the former Dorothy Perkins shop to become a Costa Coffee shop had enough objections to mean it was decided by councillors at a Planning Committee.

Your ward councillors objected to the application as there are already a large number of coffee shops in Wallington and another one dilutes the town centre offer, and therefore its viability. Jayne made representations at the Planning Committee, unfortunately these arguments fell on deaf ears and the application was approved.

Concerns expressed by the committee that failing to grant this permission would lead to a vacant unit are unsubstantiated. Dorothy Perkins did not close voluntarily, it had come to the end of its lease and was outbid by Costa for the new lease. We have seen new retail stores move into Wallington Square so there is demand for retail.

 

Results of the Parking Survey in Wallington South

The feedback from the parking survey showed that whilst areas of our ward were experiencing issues with parking, there was no strong consensus for controlled parking schemes. This means that we will not be proposing any permit schemes in Wallington South.

However, having spoken with residents in Hinton Road it was felt a scheme allowing vehicles to park partly on the pavement might alleviate some of the issues in this narrow road. In the Ross Road area officers have suggested a free bay scheme might be an alternative solution.

In both cases there will be formal consultation on a worked up proposal that will need positive feedback from the affected residents before any scheme is taken forward.

Officers have confirmed that they will be implementing double yellow lines at all junctions that do not already have them, and reviewing the yellow lines along Woodcote Road where larger vehicles encroach into oncoming traffic in order to pass parked vehicles.

 

Wallington Public Hall Development

The development is being delivered by the council’s housing development company, Sutton Living Ltd, as it can offer more affordable housing than a private developer. It will provide 20 flats for sale, 11 for council housing, with 12 parking spaces and commercial space. The construction company is Kind & Co who also built the new council housing on Alcester Way in Wallington.

The Tool Shop has first refusal on taking space in the new commercial units.

The Public Hall closed in 2015 as there was no longer sufficient demand to justify its upkeep.

Local History

In the 60’s and 70’s up and coming musical acts would tour the country playing small local venues like Wallington Hall. Along with many towns we can claim to have hosted famous artists like David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones, to name just a few.

These days the only places to see big names are at major venues like the O2 and Wembley.

Sadly Wallington Public Hall was not unique enough to be listed, however the new development will reference its musical history by naming the two blocks after famous albums: Blackstar and Steel Wheels.

Local Police and Crime update

Your ward councillors regularly attend the local Police Safer Neighbourhood Team ward panel meetings along with local residents.

We were advised that certain vehicles are being targeted for theft of their exhaust pipes. Honda Jazz models are particularly a target due to a particular metal they contain. If you see people working underneath cars at odd times please alert the police.

Work is progressing to fit gates to the Ross Parade alleyway which will deter anti-social behaviour in that area.

The police are aware of groups of youths, often on bikes, causing nuisance. Your ward councillors are working with the police and colleagues to review initiatives in Croydon offering alternative activities to occupy young people to see if they might be implemented in our borough.

 

Wallington Christmas Festival

Our community-run festival was a great success again this year with record attendance. This year there were more stalls and games, more food and more children eager to visit Santa. The Christmas tree was enormous, many thanks to Your Move for sponsoring it, and our trustee band of volunteers for putting it up and decorating it. Also thanks to Kind & Co. who lent us their barriers to keep everyone safe.

Thanks to everyone involved in organising or sponsoring the festival: local businesses, residents, church groups and the council, but especially thanks to you for coming along to support and enjoy the event.

 

Plans to slow traffic along Foresters Drive

Following meetings with residents and ward councillors the council’s Highways Team are proposing three schemes with the aim of slowing down traffic along Foresters Drive. Although further up the road, this should have a positive impact on the tricky junction at Sandy Lane South and Wordsworth Road, if not a complete fix.

The one-way proposals for Wordworth Road were scrapped following resident feedback.

 

Keeping Wallington Spick and Span

As we go out and about your ward councillors will report flytipping, graffiti, blocked drains, damaged signs and unswept streets. We are very aware that the standard of street cleaning is far from satisfactory and whilst persistence has seen improvements in some roads, not all are up to standard.

You can help keep Wallington tidy by reporting issues directly using the council website’s Report It function. If the problem persists then let us know and we will chase it up for you.

The council’s Bulky Waste Collection service is extremely good value for money as you can get up to three large items of furniture taken away for just £31. That would cover an entire three-piece suite; or a wardrobe, a BBQ and a mattress. It is also easy to arrange collection and pay online. There really is no excuse for dumping these items on the street, and by using the council collection service, items will be recycled where possible.

 

PLANNING NEWS

DM2019/01798  Part Rear Of 6 To 8 And 4 Holmwood Gardens And 13 To 25 Boundary Road Wallington SM6 0ES Erection of 6 three-bedroom semi-detached houses, provision of garage parking block, creation of car parking spaces at the front of properties, cycle store and alterations to existing access onto Boundary Road Refused

DM2019/01050 1 Elgin Road Wallington SM6 8RE Erection of a new detached dwelling house with associated parking. Refused. Appeal lodged 1.10.19

DM2018/01835 25-27 Beddington Gardens And 18 Holmwood Gardens Wallington SM6 0JG                     Outline planning application to determine access, layout and scale for the demolition of existing houses and the erection of a part 4 storey building and basement comprising a total of thirty seven self-contained flats, with associated hard and soft landscaping, refuse and cycle storage and thirty nine off street parking spaces        Refused Feb 2019, Appeal lodged Sept 2019

New Applications:

DM2019/02049 35 Woodcote Road Wallington SM6 0LH Alterations to rear yard including construction of new covered way and installation of low level storage sheds

DM2019/02041 118 Woodcote Road Wallington SM6 0LY Installation of a replacement shop front and roller shutters to a grade II listed building (Former newsagents in British Heart Foundation building)

DM2019/01880 88 Woodcote Road Wallington SM6 0LY Change of use of ground floor from Class A1 (Retail) to Class A1/A3 (Coffee Shop) (Old Dorothy Perkins shop change to Costa Coffee) Scheduled for decision at Planning Committee 5th February

DM2019/01775 Cloverdale Court 10 Stanley Park Road Wallington SM6 0EU Alterations and extension including the erection of a two storey front extension, a two storey side extension (north west), a three storey side (North east) extension and conversion of loft space all to create 22 additional self-contained residential units. Provision of a new community day centre, cycle spaces, refuse store and associated landscaping works.

DM2019/01756 Wallington Court, Pulse Strength And Fitness Stanley Park Road Wallington SM6 0HG Application to vary condition 4 (hours of operation to 24 hour) of planning permission Ref: D1997/41910 for the Use of ground floor of premises as a gymnasium

DM2019/01547 47 Park Hill Road Wallington SM6 0RU Demolition existing single storey side extension and erection of a two storey detached dwelling with a parking space. Replace ground floor kitchen door with a window at No.47

 

BEDDINGTON AND WALLINGTON LOCAL COMMITTEE NEWS

The Beddington & Wallington Local Committee scheduled for 26th November had to be cancelled because of Purdah rules during the General Election. The next meeting is scheduled for 10th March, venue to be confirmed.

We expect to have updates on local projects, highways schemes and parking scheme proposals for the wider area, as well as ideas for improving the reach of the local committees to engage more residents.

 

A CHANGE IN OUR CONSTITUENCY MP

Sadly we saw our Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake lose his seat by a small margin in the December General Election. It was good to see his replacement, the Conservative candidate Elliot Colburn pay tribute to Tom’s long record of hard work campaigning and helping residents saying he had ‘big shoes to fill’.

Having Tom as our MP meant we had shared values and could collaborate on campaigns to improve the area for residents and businesses. However, as an opposition MP he had to fight hard on every issue.

Having an MP who is part of the majority Conservative Government could bring benefits if he works to bring improvements for the area. Our asks would be for him to fight to reverse the ten years of relentless funding cuts to local government so that the council can properly serve the residents of the borough. Everyone has felt the impacts of funding pressures through the changes to the waste collection, reduction in quality of street cleaning and reduced library hours. The silent victims are the elderly whose care support is struggling with increased demand whilst funding that pays for the caring staff is slashed, and children with special needs schools cannot afford to adequately support. And as the government funding provided to local councils has reduced almost to zero, in order to maintain basic services councils have been ‘allowed’ to raise council tax, meaning residents have had to make up some of the shortfall whilst getting reduced services.

The new MP should be able to hit the ground running as he was personal assistant to the Sutton and Cheam Conservative MP Paul Scully for three years after completing his Political Studies at university. He has also been ward councillor for Cheam for nearly two years.

So far the new MP has simply used his position to make political barbs at the Lib-Dem-run council. He had to be corrected by his own minister for claiming emissions from Energy from Waste plants had a detrimental impact on air quality and reminded that moving to residual waste incineration with energy recovery was government policy. Hopefully once he has got this off his chest he will focus on more constructive ways to improve the lives of the residents he represents.

We will have to wait and see.

 

So that is it from us for now. 

Cllr Steve Cook, Cllr Jayne McCoy & Cllr Muhammad Sadiq
Your Lib Dem team for Wallington South

 

April 3, 2020 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Budget debate at full council 2nd March 2020

Last night Sutton council presented it’s 34th Liberal Democrat budget for approval.

This was my contribution to the debate:

Poverty demands compassion, not austerity

The budget is just numbers on a page. Big numbers, setting out what will be spent on services and where that money will come from.

How can it possibly capture the ambition and achievements to help and support our residents?

The daily negotiations with landlords to help a family facing homelessness be able to keep a roof over their head.

The help claiming benefits for a single parent locked in poverty and reliant on foodbanks.

The family support put in place put in to help a parent continue to care for their disabled child when they are at breaking point.

Or the daily visits made by care workers to an elderly person so they can get out of bed, get washed and dressed and have a hot meal in their own home.

Those everyday acts, that practical help, advice and kindnesses, are delivered by this council to the people that live in our borough, every day. And that care, that compassion, delivered by people, is what makes up the largest proportion of the council’s budget, the biggest numbers on those pages.

Nor do those figures capture the work done to open up more opportunities for our residents.

The negotiations with developers to deliver homes people can afford to live in, the work to attract businesses to the borough so there are more jobs, or the joint working with schools, colleges and training providers to ensure our residents have the skills to access those jobs.

Despite national trends, we have seen enormous numbers of new businesses moving into Sutton. That hasn’t happened by chance. That is the result of hard work by this council promoting Sutton, attracting and facilitating development and creating the right environment for businesses to thrive.

And we are building council houses, regenerating council estates, improving areas like Worcester Park, Beddington and Rosehill, building schools, delivering schemes to address the climate emergency, and facilitating the development of a site that will boost the local economy and help cure cancer.

And all this work is against a background of ten years of austerity. Ten years of the government relentlessly slashing the funding it gives to councils, whilst the numbers of people in need of our services grows massively.

What is worse is that the numbers of people are growing because this Government’s policies have directly led to more people facing homelessness, more people in poverty, more people unable to get timely health treatment, and people alone and isolated because there is no one to provide the care they need.

So yes, when faced with rising numbers of people in need of care and support, we will increase council tax to enable us to do that. If the government is unwilling to provide adequate funding to support these vulnerable people, we will not give up on them, and will try to plug the gap through increasing council tax.

And we make no apologies for that. No apologies for having compassion.

This is in stark contrast to the Conservatives, who show no compassion.

That is another thing these dry figures do not reflect, the heart-wrenching, difficult decisions that have had to be made about what services to cut or stop because the funding is no longer there.

There is no slack in our budget, no room for pet projects or waste. All our funding goes on supporting residents that need our help, and investing in projects to make their lives better.

So I am sorry Cllr Geiringer, we will not waste money on oak paneled council chambers when we need to build houses for homeless families. We will not be spending money on biscuits and buffets for councillors when we have families reliant on foodbanks.

Your priorities are very far from ours. As is your government and its austerity that you are all quick to defend.

Rather than defending austerity you should be reminding your leaders that poverty is not a lifestyle choice but a result of their policies.

Your leader needs to think less about making babies and accumulating more power, and instead understand that the work of councils is a vital front-line support for people facing crisis that needs and deserves adequate funding.

But with arrogance and self-interest consuming parliament, it is even more important that we have a Liberal Democrat council that will continue to deliver the compassion, and the hard work, that lies behind all these rows of figures in our council budget.

The Conservative opposition group voted unanimously against our budget, along with all three Independent members, despite proposing no alternative budget of their own.

March 3, 2020 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Liberal Democrats | , , , | Leave a comment

Chair’s update on the work of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee

HEB meeting 7th January 2020

  • Review of pre-application service agreed revised charging schedule and protocols
  • Review and Extension of the Sutton Design Review Panel agreed to extend existing contract for 6 months and then procure a three year contract
  • Adoption of the Sutton Town Centre Public Realm Design Guide SPD agreed
  • Housing Revenue Account Business Plan agreed
  • Housing Rents and Charges agreed
  • Progress against SFTRA report of SHP Performance noted
  • Sutton Leaseholders Association report on SHP performance noted
  • Adoption of the revised statement of community involvement agreed
  • Local Council Tax reduction Scheme agreed but 5% cap removed as scheme reviewed annually anyway
  • HEB Performance Report noted
  • Establishment of a Task & Finish Group to look at HMOs agreed
  • Feedback on Homelessness Review Task and Finish Group agreed to continue T&FG to shape and inform Homelessness Strategy

HEB meeting 8th October 2019

  • Homelessness Review – establishment of cross-committee Task & Finish Group to review and shape Homelessness Strategy
  • Beddington Farmlands Petition Petition presented by Wandle Forum and Peter Alfrey. Viridor attended to update on progress and Cllr Foster as chair of CAMC asked to attend and contributed. Lack of progress acknowledged along with increased efforts by Viridor to get back on track which they expect to achieve by 2023 deadline. Resolved to have Viridor at the committee every six months to review progress. 
  • Designation of the Sutton Farm Estate Area of Special Local Character and Adoption of its Character Appraisal Approved
  • Adoption of Carshalton Village and Sutton Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan  Approved
  • Adoption of Sutton Town Centre Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan  Approved
  • Authority to consult on the South London Waste Plan Issues and Preferred Options document new waste plan DPD showing no new waste sites required in the SL waste area Agreed to go out to consultation
  • Authority to consult on the Draft Affordable Housing and Financial Viability Supplementary Planning Document Approved for consultation

Expected business HEB Meeting 24th March 2020

  • Homelessness Strategy
  • Encompass Performance Review
  • SHP Delivery Plan

Other Business since last update

Employment and Skills

Ther latest Employment and Skills Board meeting took place on 9th December.

Agenda included presentations from Kind & Co on recruitment and retention of staff; update on work to improve our s106 planning obligations around skills; Young Enterprise programme update; NEET prevention programme update; and plans for National Apprenticeship week.

The Sutton Women Mean Business Awards was an initiative that came from the skills board and outsourced to Successful Sutton the town centre BID to organise. The awards took place on 12th November and were very well received by the nominees and winners. There was a real buzz to the event and heartfelt thanks for the recognition of the positive benefits of women in the workforce. It is expected that this will become a regular event.

A South London cross-borough meeting has been arranged by the Leader of Kingston council to discuss sub-regional priorities for employment and skills for early February.

Sutton Town Centre Masterplan Delivery

Old BHS building (now H&M) and WHSmith building acquired by the council to generate income and offer opportunities to develop flexible workspace for business start-ups.

I joined other councillors on a visit to Waltham Forest to see their Liveable Neighbourhood scheme.

Strategic Planning

The Strategic Planning Team were tasked with representing a collective of south London outer London boroughs at the Examination of the London Mayor’s draft London Plan. They made representations against the high housing targets expected of suburban boroughs to be delivered on small sites which contradicts our own Local Plan policy, as well as other areas of concern. The Inspector agreed with us and requires the housing targets to be reduced significantly. This is high kudos for our Strategic Planning Team – they also influenced the decision on other areas, and good news for our local planning aims.

I attended the Harris Academy Sutton official opening of the new school, the first UK secondary school built to Passivhous standards.

Housing

We handed over the keys to tenants moving into homes at Richmond Green and Alcester Road as we complete the first phase of our phase 1 of new-build council housing. We are working on plans to build more new council homes on a range of small sites using funding granted by the London Mayor.

I visited the Hamptons in the wake of the fire to review the response including by Encompass officers and met with the CEO of Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing. I suggested MTVH apply to MHGLG to apply for funding to cover up-front costs for rebuild with support from the LGA, which they have done. The council have now responded to a request from residents to appoint an Independent Tenant Advisor of their choice to liaise with MTVH. MTVH are contributing towards the cost.

In November I spoke at a Westminster Legal Policy Forum event on Regulation of the Private Rented Sector and chaired the second session of the event.

Business

I attended a consultation meeting with the Deputy Mayor for Business and London Councils on the Charter for Business. I am working to get the Deputy Mayor to visit the London Cancer Hub.

I attended a London Enterprise Partnership sub-regional meeting to discuss London’s Local Industrial Strategy.

I met with representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) with officers and had a positive discussion about co-operating to achieve mutual aims.

Representing Sutton

I attended a LGA Grenfell Task & Finish Group meeting in July to respond to the Government’s consultation on the new Building Safety regulatory framework. Much of the input from the LGA Task Group on this has been taken into account.

I represented London Councils at a meeting with Essex Leaders to discuss out of London placements of homeless families.

I attended a London First roundtable with developers & London Councils Lead for Housing to discuss public distrust of developers and was invited to write a blog piece following the event.

I was appointed to the Homes for Londoners Board in September and have attended two meetings at City Hall.

I attended the National Housing Association Awards with Clarion Housing as they had been shortlisted for an award for the Lavenders Regeneration project.

Jayne attended the Extinction Rebellion presentation and discussion at BedZed pavilion.

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Information | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wallington South Ward Councillors’ Autumn Update

The evenings are drawing in, it is starting to get chilly, but the late autumn light is particularly beautiful. Dodge the showers and get out and enjoy our parks and open spaces before it gets too cold. In the meantime here is the latest update from your ward councillors.

Ward News

Parking Survey in Wallington South

Hopefully you completed the Parking Survey circulated recently. The deadline was 17th October.

Once all the feedback has been reviewed officers may draft some proposals which you will then be asked to review and comment on as the second stage of the consultation.

The third stage is the legal consultation on any revised, final schemes.

The focus is on areas around train stations and schools which tend to be the key drivers of parking problems. The solutions tend to be some form of controlled parking zone. The Frequently Asked Questions section on the website explains more about the different types of controlled parking zones and gives information on other issues like carer’s permits and implications for blue badge holders.

From resident feedback we thought that the Ross Road area might warrant consideration of some sort of scheme to address the commuter parking and overflow from the district centre, so we held a meeting on 15th October 2019 Wallington Library to discuss this.
We were pleased to have representatives attend from Ross Road, Clarendon Road, Elgin Road, St Michael’s Road and Clyde Road.
At the meeting we explained what the potential solutions offered are likely to be, and asked for an early indication of whether there are any that residents would like us to press for, or would prefer no scheme at all.

The view from the residents at the meeting, by around 18-2, was that any scheme would actually be worse than the existing parking problems. Although there was general frustration with nursery parents blocking driveways, and tradespeople and business employees taking up parking spaces, there was also sympathy for them as they would have nowhere else to park, which could damage those businesses.

We will still need to review the results from all the survey responses and may need to continue to explain the implications of any scheme to residents. If we feel there is merit in putting forward a scheme proposal then that will also be subject to consultation and will need a strong majority response in favour for us to agree to implement it.

New number for parking enforcement

The new operator enforcing obstructive parking over dropped kerbs is Saba (formally Indigo) Call 020 8661 0096 for enforcement.

Councillors step in to continue Poppy Planting at Wallington Town Hall

Very sadly the local branch members of the Royal British Legion can no longer organize the poppy planting ceremony in front of the Old Town Hall on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday. This is due to the failing health of its members.
The poppy appeal work will continue but will be reduced in size.
Local councillors, the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and MPs have attended this ceremony for many years, and it is always very touching. Your ward councillors Steve, Jayne and Muhammad have therefore offered their assistance to ensure that the service can still go ahead, and are working with the Royal British Legion to make all the arrangements.

The service will take place on Saturday 9th November at 9.30am. Please do join us for the short service.

Local Police and Crime update

Your ward councillors regularly attend the local Police Safer Neighbourhood Team ward panel meetings along with local residents. The police have noted an increase in street drinking, rough sleepers and begging in our area. Some of this is displaced anti-social behaviour as a result of crackdowns on street drinking in Sutton town centre, and policing activity in Bromley and Croydon. Most of the beggars and rough sleepers are not genuine, so please do not give them money as this only encourages them to our area.

The local police have been working to deter these activities including requiring the fitting of new security doors at buildings where criminals have been gaining access, and gating off the alleyway in Ross Parade.

Wallington Library Gardens

Our beloved fountain has been refurbished and is operational again. Many thanks to the council’s asset management team for stepping in to arrange the work. Please do not add anything to the pond as it is a delicate balance having plants that don’t clog the filters so the fountain can operate.

The pond is further enhanced by the new Old Town Hall gates installed as a Beddington & Wallington Local Committee project championed by local resident Colin Wadeson. The gates can be opened to allow performances on the steps of the town hall and will be especially welcome for our annual Music Festival.

One-way trial for Tharp Road

The one way trial in Tharp Road is now underway, somewhat later than anticipated. The trial is for a year and traffic movements will be closely monitored and compared with data collected before the trial commenced.
There may be some congestion in the first few weeks as people get used to the changes, but once things settle down the data will be informative.

Graffiti Gone

We are very pleased to see that the managing agents of Napier Court responded to our request and have painted out the graffiti on their building. It was very visible from Wallington train station and not a good welcome to our area.

Thanks to Tom Brake’s assistance contacting Network Rail the graffiti has also been removed from the railway bridge.

However new graffiti is also appearing and it appears to be the same person. If you witness anyone defacing property in the area please note their appearance and alert the police.

Wallington Square

Steve, Jayne and Muhammad met with the owner of Wallington Square in September. The owner was keen to discuss plans to hold events in the Square. We welcomed activities to increase the offer in the district centre and provided advice about licenses.
Your ward councillors also took the opportunity to press for more work to be done to clean up the square.
They also stepped in on behalf of the businesses in the square and pressed for work on the guttering to prevent the wall of water over shopfronts in heavy rain. We helped the owner of popular Cox Pippin explain the problems he encountered to the owner.
We think a solution can be found and will keep up the pressure on the owners as this will benefit the local shops and their customers.

We were pleased to learn that the new Bargain Buys store in the square has provided employment for 20 local people.

Still working on bringing the chimes back to Wallington

Wallington Old Town Hall used to chime out the hours. The chimes were deactivated whilst Orchard Hill College occupied the ground floor so as not to disturb the students. However, Sutton College have now taken over the whole building since Orchard Hill moved to other premises, and they have said that they have no objection to the chimes.
Following a positive response from residents to bring back the chimes we have asked the council to set them ringing again. However, the mechanism needs repair and we are still waiting on quotes to get this done. We hope we can get them done in time to ring in the New Year!

Wallington Christmas Festival

Our annual family-friendly festival to welcome in the Christmas season is planned for Friday 29th November. We are expecting Santa and his elves, stalls and singing, switching on the Christmas tree lights and festive food and drink.

The event is organised by local residents, businesses and church groups with a grant from the Beddington & Wallington Local Committee and sponsorship from businesses.

Look out for posters and on Facebook for more information.

Wordsworth Road/Sandy Lane South/Foresters Drive junction

For many years residents have raised concerns about this junction. Recent proposals to make the Lavender Vale to Sandy Lane South stretch of Wordsworth Road one way to reduce the traffic exiting this junction has been scrapped following resident feedback. It was clear that whilst solving one problem, this measure would increase problems elsewhere.

A resident meeting to discuss this and other local traffic hotspots attracted a very good attendance. As a result the council’s Highways Team will be focusing on addressing the areas of most concern, and will look at reducing traffic speeds along Foresters Drive and improving safety at the junctions.
We expect new proposals to come out for consultation later this year.

Wallington Public Hall site development

Works have commenced to develop this site to provide housing and commercial units. Half of the car park will remain available for general parking. The Tool Shop has first refusal on a unit and the owner has indicated he intends to take up the offer. In the meantime he has relocated to Carshalton.
The development is being undertaken by Sutton Living Ltd, a council-owned company, and Kind & Co are the construction company who also delivered the council housing in Alcester Road, Wallington.

 

PLANNING NEWS

DM2019/00749 109 Boundary Road Wallington SM6 0TE Erection of a detached two storey, three bed room dwelling with refuse, cycle storage and provision of an additional two off street parking spaces Refused

DM2019/01050 1 Elgin Road Wallington SM6 8RE Erection of a new detached dwelling house with associated parking. Refused. Appeal lodged 1.10.19

DM2019/00915 19 Woodcote Road Wallington SM6 0LH Change of use for the ground floor retail unit (Class A1) to a dental practice (Class D1) Granted

DM2019/00833 31 Onslow Gardens Wallington SM6 9QL Demolition of the detached garage and erection of a detached 4-bedroomed dwelling, alteration to existing access and provision of two car parking spaces and provision of new vehicular access and two car parking spaces for existing property Granted

DM2018/01835 25-27 Beddington Gardens And 18 Holmwood Gardens Wallington SM6 0JG Outline planning application to determine access, layout and scale for the demolition of existing houses and the erection of a part 4 storey building and basement comprising a total of thirty seven self-contained flats, with associated hard and soft landscaping, refuse and cycle storage and thirty nine off street parking spaces Refused Feb 2019, Appeal lodged Sept 2019

DM2019/00194 No 1-2 Ross Parade & 7-13 Woodcote Road Wallington SM6 8QL Erection of a first floor rear extension, installation of 21 rooflights (front and rear ) to convert roofspace into living accommodation and creation of a shared garden with secure refuse and cycle parking in connection with the provision of seven self contained flats (6X 2-bedroom and 1X 3-bedroom). Granted

DM2018/01282 40 Wallington Square Wallington SM6 8RG Permission has been granted for change of use of the cab office to become an ice cream parlour.

DM2018/01976 34 Heathdene Road Wallington SM6 0TB Demolition of existing dwelling and the erection of a two storey building with roof accommodation comprising 7 self-contained flats with 5 parking spaces, cycle store, re-cycling store, terraces leading to the rear garden and new front boundary wall and railings. Appealed by developer for non-determination. Appeal dismissed and application refused July 2019

DM2018/01097 11 Hall Road Wallington SM6 0RT Change of Use from a Care Home to a House in Multiple Occupation involving a single storey rear extension, a two storey side extension and alteration to side elevation. Conversion of loft space involving an additional dormer extension at rear. Refused

DM2018/01084 Part Rear Of 6 To 8 And 4 Holmwood Gardens And 13 To 25 Boundary Road Wallington SM6 0ES Variation of Condition 8 (Access Road) attached to Planning Permission D2016/75885/FUL to change the wording from ‘Highway Boundary’ to ‘Carriageway Boundary’ Granted on appeal

New Applications:

DM2019/01547 47 Park Hill Road Wallington SM6 0RU Demolition existing single storey side extension and erection of a two storey detached dwelling with a parking space. Replace ground floor kitchen door with a window at No.47

 

BEDDINGTON AND WALLINGTON LOCAL COMMITTEE NEWS

The last Beddington & Wallington Local Committee took place on 1st October at Trinity Church in Wallington.

At the meeting there was a presentation explaining how the council’s waste collection and street cleansing services work along with details of the Parks and Open Spaces Strategy.

We were updated on Highways issues and were pleased to learn that schemes in Clyde Road and Onslow Gardens are expected to be coming out for consultation soon. There is also work being done to improve pedestrian crossing points around the Sainsburys junction. The team are currently considering if a pedestrian phase at the entrance to the car park might be possible.

A Representative from Transport for London provided information about the Go Sutton bus service trial that is proving very popular with residents. Unfortunately, despite us pressing, he was unable to provide any commitment that the trial could be made permanent. It continues until April 2020 so do make the most of it while we have it.

Previously agreed funding means we will again have festive lighting throughout our area to cheer us over the Christmas period.

The planting and maintenance of the hanging baskets and flower troughs in Wallington high street and along Stafford Road will continue.

It was agreed to fund a replacement bench for the one damaged by a bus in Shotfield.
Copies of the presentations and reports to committee can be found here.

The next meeting of the Beddington & Wallington Local Committee will be on 26th November at 7pm at the Croygas Sports Club.

 

So that is it from us for now. Soon be Christmas!

Cllr Steve Cook, Cllr Jayne McCoy & Cllr Muhammad Sadiq
Your Lib Dem team for Wallington South

November 3, 2019 Posted by | Information | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wallington South Councillors’ Spring Update 2019

It’s officially Spring, but the weather appears less certain. Some days we get a bit of sunshine, the next a downpour of rain. Well it is April! Here is what we have been up to since our last update.

WARD NEWS

The pond and fountain in the library gardens

Works to restore the pond and fountain in the library gardens have had to be put on hold thanks to repeated vandalism and theft of the pump. There is also a slow leak in the pond that will be expensive to fix.

We do not think that we should let the activities of a few thoughtless people with no respect for the property of others deprive us of our fountain, which is part of the original design of the library, so we have asked for options and costings to repair the pond and fountain.

Do you agree it should be restored or should we give up on it and remove the pond?

If you witness anyone involved in vandalism please do call the police on 999 immediately.

The gates to the library gardens are meant to be left open for access even when the library is closed, however we are still finding the gates are locked on Sundays. The railings are so low they clearly are not a deterrent to those planning access for criminal activity, and in fact more people using the gardens means they are less attractive to vandals.

We have therefore raised this with the council to ensure that the gates remain unlocked so all our residents can enjoy the gardens.

One-way trial for Tharp Road

Those of you who use Tharp Road will be aware that the on-street parking means that the road is effectively single-lane. It is also used as a cut through from Demesne Road to Plough Lane. Residents in Tharp Road complain of regular problems of cars unable to pass in the road resulting in broken wing mirrors of parked cars and road rage incidents. They asked the council to look into potential solutions and it has been agreed to trial a one-way system from east to west along Tharp Road.

There are obvious concerns about the impact of this on Demesne Road, however the traffic modelling expects the impacts to be minimal. The only real way to test this is to trial it, so that is what have agreed to. The benefit of a trial is that if, after a few weeks for drivers to get used to the one-way system, the impacts are significant and clearly not working, it can be easily cancelled.

Residents in affected and neighbouring roads will be advised of when the trial is due to start.

 

No cycling through Wallington Square

There are signs showing that cycling is not permitted through the pedestrianized Wallington Square, however we have had a number of complaints about youths cycling in the square without due regard to pedestrians and making a nuisance of themselves with the businesses.

When challenged the youths claimed the signs meant they could cycle in the square. This is a simple failure to understand Highways Code signage however, to ensure that there is no misunderstanding and help residents and the police challenge cyclists, we have arranged for simple ‘No cycling’ signage to be added.

Any incidences of cyclists involved in anti-social behaviour likely to cause an accident or intimidation should be reported to the police. Use 999 if it is currently taking place, or you can report it online if it is after the event.

 

Shall we get the Old Town Hall chiming again?

The clock on Wallington Old Town Hall used to have bells chiming out the hours. The chimes were deactivated whilst Orchard Hill College occupied the ground floor so as not to disturb the students. However, Sutton College have now taken over the whole building since Orchard Hill moved to other premises, and they have said that they have no objection to the chimes.

A trial is planned after the Easter holidays and if there are no complaints we will have the bells ringing out the time once again.

 

The Parking Strategy is finally coming to Wallington South

Residents seeking solutions to local parking problems have had to be very patient whilst the council has changed its approach from small ad-hoc schemes to an area-wide review and more holistic approach. The Wallington area was last on the list of areas to be addressed but it is finally our turn.

The strategy involves a three-stage consultation process with Stage 1 seeking information from residents of where the parking problems are in our area. Council officers will combine this information with their own data compiled from other sources and will put out some initial proposals to address the problems for consultation as Stage 2.

Stage 3 will see the proposals revised or withdrawn in response to feedback from stage 2 and final proposals put out to statutory consultation under a required Traffic Management Order.

The final stage of the process will be implementation of the schemes.

From discussions with residents about parking problems we have a rough idea of where the main parking problems are, such as the Ross Road area. Also from talking to residents it is thought that some form of controlled parking is the only way to resolve the worst of the parking problems.

Experience from other areas already going through the stages shows that there can be significant disagreement even within the same road as to what solutions would be acceptable, so we would like to have some early conversations with residents most likely to be affected. We are planning to arrange some meetings with residents in the near future.

 

Wallington Music Festival

The Wallington Music Festival returns once again and will take place on Saturday 15th June.

It will start once again with performances in the Mallinson Room of the library in the morning, with the bandstand in the library gardens being the focal point for performances in the afternoon.

There will be fantastic food provided by Chef RF and the Woodcote Flying Club, as well as other delicacies and a mobile bar.

In the evening the event will spread to local pubs and restaurants offering free entry to enjoy live music late into the evening.

The event is organised by the local community with the help and sponsorship of local businesses and some funding from the council. The aim is to showcase local musical talent and provide an enjoyable event for the community in the heart of Wallington.

 

Wordsworth Road/Sandy Lane South/Foresters Drive junction

For many years residents have raised concerns about this junction. Working with our Beddington South ward colleagues we now have council officers looking at proposals to make this junction safer. When we have some firm proposals they will go out for consultation and we will keep you updated.

 

Telecoms Mast stopped from blighting Woodcote Green

When we learnt of proposals to locate a telecoms mast and cabinets on Woodcote Green just where we had reinstalled the old horse trough and erected a noticeboard we were not happy. Together with local residents we registered our objections and got the plans pulled.

The mast is now to be located on the other side of Woodcote Road near the roundabout where it will be screened among the trees.

Cancer Research UK shop closes

Sadly, despite our efforts, the Cancer Research UK charity shop has now closed. When we heard how badly the volunteer staff had been treated we set up a petition against the closure and currently over 500 people have signed. Tom Brake MP also raised his concerns having met with the staff involved.

Despite this the shop was very quickly closed. We still think we should voice our concerns with the charity about the way they treat its volunteers. You can sign the petition here.

Wallington High School for Girls school events

Wallington Girls school keeps us informed of events at the school that are likely to see an increase in traffic and parking so local residents are pre-warned. Here are the upcoming events for the summer term:

April

  • 24 Welcome to WHSG evening from 5pm-6.30pm* (1)
  • 25 Year 10 Parents Evening from 4-7pm*

May

  • Year 7 Parents’ Evening from 2 – 6.30pm*
  • Welcome to WHSG evening from 5pm – 6.30pm*(2)

June

  • 13 Art Exhibition from 5-6pm*
  • 20 Wellbeing Festival 2-4pm*
  • 27 Sixth Form Induction Day*

July

  • 3 New Year 7 Induction Day**
  • 4 Open Evening 4-8.30pm**
  • 15-17 Enrichment Days (may be coaches arriving/departing beginning and end of school day)

 

PLANNING NEWS

 

DM2018/01835 25-27 Beddington Gardens And 18 Holmwood Gardens Wallington SM6 0JG   Outline planning application to determine access, layout and scale for the demolition of existing houses and the erection of a part 4 storey building and basement comprising a total of thirty seven self-contained flats, with associated hard and soft landscaping, refuse and cycle storage and thirty nine off street parking spaces        Refused

DM2018/01282 40 Wallington Square Wallington SM6 8RG Permission has been granted for change of use of the cab office to become an ice cream parlour.

DM2018/01976 34 Heathdene Road Wallington SM6 0TB Demolition of existing dwelling and the erection of a two storey building with roof accommodation comprising 7 self-contained flats with 5 parking spaces, cycle store, re-cycling store, terraces leading to the rear garden and new front boundary wall and railings. Please note that the current elderly owners of this property intend to still be residing in this property in one of the new flats.

New Applications:

DM2018/01957 Old Town Hall Woodcote Road Wallington SM6 0NB Installation of 2m high gates and railing to the rear

DM2019/00194 No 1-2 Ross Parade & 7-13 Woodcote Road Wallington SM6 8QL Erection of a first floor rear extension, installation of 21 rooflights (front and rear ) to convert roofspace into living accommodation and creation of a shared garden with secure refuse and cycle parking in connection with the provision of seven self contained flats (6X 2-bedroom and 1X 3-bedroom).

 

BEDDINGTON AND WALLINGTON LOCAL COMMITTEE NEWS

The last Beddington & Wallington Local Committee took place on 22nd January at Croygas Sports Club. Items of interest to our ward were:

Capital funding for local schemes

Funding was agreed to continue the planting and maintenance of the hanging baskets and flower troughs in Wallington high street and along Stafford Road. Two flower towers for in front of the old town hall were also agreed for summer, and hanging baskets for the bandstand in the library gardens.

Funding was agreed for the extinguishing of the public right of way through the Ross Parade alleyway to Woodcote Mews and for the alley to be gated.

We were pleased to note that the School Keep Clear markings had been implemented at Sherwood Hill School on Stanley Park Road.

BBQs and Parking Enforcement in Beddington Park

As the trial enforcement has come to an end and had been effective in reducing some of the anti-social behaviour associated with the use of the BBQs proposals were presented to be able to continue with an outside organisation managing enforcement in the park.

Councillors at the meeting did not think there was sufficient information about each of the options and that further discussions with resident groups was required to determine a suitable solution.

As a result the decision was deferred for further work and discussions to be undertaken.

Police Safer Neighbourhood Team Update

We were advised that there had been a reduction in anti-social behaviour in the area thanks to the introduction of alcohol prohibition notices deterring street drinking. However a rise in street beggars on the high street has been noted and the police are monitoring the situation.

The next meeting of the Beddington & Wallington Local Committee will be on 30th April at 7pm again at the Croygas Sports Club.

 

BOROUGH NEWS

Building Council Houses

Ludlow Lodge, Wallington

When the government changed the rules on funding for housing Sutton Council immediately took the opportunity to start building new council housing. The first development at Fellowes Road is already completed with new tenants already in. There are 93 homes being built with full completion due by the summer.

Further funding has been made available so the council is working on plans to build more council homes for local people.

 

EU Citizens Settlement Scheme

In light of Brexit the UK government has reached an agreement with the European Union on citizens’ rights. This will cover those already resident in the UK and those arriving during the period to 31 December 2020.

The agreement protects the rights of EU citizens after the UK leaves the EU and enables them to continue to live their lives as now. It also covers their close family members. The EU settlement scheme is a new service introduced by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) the scheme will open fully from 30th March 2019.

Sutton Register Office will offer a FREE in-person service to scan and verify biometrically chipped passports and ID cards using a device which has been purchased by the Register Office.

In Sutton, Citizens Advice will be providing support to residents to enable them to complete the online application process.

 

Help the Council improve its online services

The council is seeking input from residents to help improve how you access services via the website.

It is holding a number of workshops up until the end of June that you can participate in to shape the council’s digital offer.

You can register here to take part in a workshop to suit you. 

 

So that is it from us for now. We wish you all a happy Easter, and don’t forget your umbrella when you venture out.

Cllr Steve Cook, Cllr Jayne McCoy & Cllr Muhammad Sadiq

Your Lib Dem team for Wallington South

 

 

April 22, 2019 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chair’s update on the work of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee

HEB meeting 19th March 2019

  • Sutton Town Centre Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan Agreed to go out to consultation
  • Carshalton Village Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan Agreed to go out to consultation
  • Housing Revenue Account 30 year Business Plan annual update Agreed
  • Council/Sutton Housing Partnership Management Agreement review Agreed
  • SHP Annual Delivery Plan Agreed
  • Review of Housing Allocations Policy Agreed with minor cross-party amendment

Expected business for next HEB meeting 2nd July 2019

  • Performance Challenge A review of Key Performance Indicators for this committee
  • Draft Public Realm Guide Supplementary Planning Document for consultation
  • Annual Review of Council Tax Reduction Scheme
  • SFTRA Report on SHP Performance

Other Business since last report 

Sutton Tramlink

Awaiting official announcement from TfL on results of the consultation and their preferred option

Employment and Skills Board

The Board met on Monday 11th March and discussed the following items:

  • Update of the Women Mean Business project
  • Presentation from local business Watkinscole about their positive experiences taking on apprentices
  • Presentation from Carshalton College on their Supported Internship programme
  • Update from the South London Partnership on their Employment and Skills programme of work
  • Partner updates

Successful Sutton the town centre BID has taken on part of the Women Mean Business project and is hosting an awards ceremony to celebrate successful Sutton women. The launch event took place on Friday 8th March and the awards ceremony will take place on 26th September.

School Speed Networking Sessions took place in March organised by Sutton Council and the Girls Learning Trust covering Carshalton Girls, Wallington Girls and Nonsuch. This involved the students getting the opportunity to meet with 70 female ambassadors and quiz them. These women cover police, fire, nursing, management, small business, recruitment, architecture, engineering, voluntary sector, housing and local government. Some are ex-pupils. Cllr Trish Fivey and I each attended one of the events as an ambassador. Feedback from the schools was extremely positive and they want to repeat the activity next year.

In April will also be a Women Mean Business Library Exhibition of 100 Sutton Women and a series of WMB Business Growth workshops (all delivered by local business women).

Beddington Programme

Councillor Manuel Aballan & I continue to receive updates on progress of the overall project.

Formal consultation on HGV restrictions through Beddington Village have resulted in some strong objections from the businesses affected concerned about increased journey times and increased congestion onto major routes. The Beddington BID is also formally objecting to the proposal. Objections have also been received from a Croydon MP and Croydon ward councillors. I had a meeting with the BID chair and vice chair this week to discuss the concerns.

Regeneration

The Regeneration Team will be meeting with Elm Grove residents on 3rd April to update them on progress with design and feasibility work for the estate and to organise the setting up of a Residents Steering Group and appoint an Independent Tenant and Homeowner Advisor.

The Benhill Estate has set up its own Residents Steering Group and meetings are always attended by the ward councillors. A Benhill Estate Regeneration webpage has been set up.

Beech Tree Place residents have set up a Residents Steering Group and are working to appoint an Independent Tenant and Homeowner Advisor. A first newsletter on the Beech Tree Place regeneration programme was sent out from the Regeneration Team.

Sutton Town Centre Masterplan Delivery

H&M opened in the old BHS unit on 28th March.

Sports Direct have purchased Times Square and are planning to bring their associated brands to units in the centre.

The council has purchased the RBS building at Elm Grove to use as a regeneration hub alongside other uses.

Innovative plans are being developed by the council for space it owns in the town centre including for new uses for the space above H&M and for the old Chicago’s nightclub.

There are also lots of private development proposals for town centre sites including St Nicholas House and the land to the rear of Times Square. Cllr Bartolucci & myself have pushed back with developers to demand better quality proposals. In respect of the Times Square proposal, developers wanted to develop to 17 storeys – far in excess of the heights set out in the local plan. They claimed that this was the only way they could deliver the 35% minimum affordable housing required. It was not an attractive design. As a result of our refusal to accept this poor quality development the owners have given up and sold the site to a housing association, so hopefully we will see a better quality proposal including a significant amount of affordable housing, which is what is really required.

London Cancer Hub

A tender is out for a development partner for the site.

Baroness Blackwood, standing in for Health Minister Matt Hancock, attended St Helier Hospital on Monday 25th March to celebrate the refurbishment works. The councils new chief executive Helen Bailey and I attended to express support for further investment in the local NHS estate and to outline the plans for the London Cancer Hub.

Revenues and Benefits (Cllr Bartolucci is Lead Member)

Cllr Bartolucci attended a Partner Lunch where the Revs & Bens Team successfully retained its Customer Service Excellence accreditation. The Assessor identified ten areas of good practice throughout his visit which is an increase on the five he identified last year.

Sutton Housing Partnership

Cllr Bartolucci and I continue to have regular briefings with the SHP CEO and attend the Strategic Fire Safety Briefings.

Other

I attended an all-day Housing Conference in London arranged by London Councils and was a member of the panel for a Q&A in one of the sessions.

Cllr Trish Fivey and I attended the launch of the Women Mean Business Awards.

I have been liaising with planning officers alongside the ward councillors in respect of key developments for the Rosehill School and Victoria House. I am very unhappy with the poor quality design the Department for Education have put forward for the Rosehill School, especially considering the necessity of locating it within the park. Planning officers agree and will be pushing for a design that is far more sympathetic to its setting.

I attended a Housing Roundtable at the House of Commons on behalf of Sutton to share good practice in housing delivery with James Brokenshire, Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

March 29, 2019 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Information | Leave a comment

Council Budget debate 2019

Another year, another budget debate with the Conservative opposition criticising the budget but failing to offer any alternative of their own. But as we have seen with Brexit, the Tories seem generally to lack the vision to see the need for a Plan B.

Cllr Garratt appeared to have been given the role of opposition budget spokesperson, but in his fifteen minute response to the financial statements under debate, somehow managed to avoid talking about the budget almost entirely. Instead he used the time to rehash complaints about bin collection and street cleaning, but again, without any answers to the issues.

The doom and gloom of trying to balance a budget with diminishing resources was given a period of light relief as we saw Independent Councillor Nick Mattey launch his stand up career. The feedback issues with the main microphone system gave Cllr Mattey the opportunity to take centre stage to deliver his budget speech. His contrived ranting expounded a series of conspiracy theories that so escalated into the realms of the absurd that ten minutes in and the chamber was in tears of laughter. Even the Tory benches had its members’ shoulders shaking with merriment and the application of tissues to watering eyes. We were even treated to the rare sight of Cllr Pascoe cracking a smile – something I have not witnessed in my eight years of knowing her.

The Nick Mattey show ended and it was back to business with Cllr Mo Saqib bringing the debate to its conclusion with a throwback to the Conservatives about their Government’s responsibility for the many ills local government was facing. Sadly, having politely sat through many speeches of criticism from their members, once the Lib Dems passed anything similar their way, the Tory benches erupted with outrage, barracking, shouting and harassing Cllr Saqib so his comments were drowned out. This playground behaviour had to be twice called out by the Mayor as he asked the opposition members to do the courtesy of allowing Cllr Saqib his five minutes to speak uninterrupted.

Unfortunately time ran out before everyone who wanted to speak could do so, including me. Not wanting the work put into a speech to go to waste I publish it here:

BACK TO THE 80s
Let’s be clear – we are raising council tax. And we are raising it by the maximum amount we can – just under 5%.
That is not going to be popular with residents, it is a gift to the opposition for them to attack us. And we are all residents – so we too will all have to pay extra council tax.
So why on earth are we putting it up?

To try to put it simply: councils get funding for delivering services in three ways: central Government funding, business rates and council tax.
Since 2010 the government has continually reduced the amount it gives to councils, whilst at the same time asking us to deliver more services.
In addition we have a growing population of older people and children with complex needs requiring specialist support, all of which is very expensive.
So with less funding from government, the only way to keep up with demand is to increase council tax.
It is in effect a government stealth tax. The government takes money off you through general taxation, but by not passing it on to councils, they know we will have to raise council tax. But for that you will blame the councils, not the government.
Clever that!

The Conservatives over there like to try to divert the blame from their inept government and say we are wasting money, and not managing things well.
Well they are on the Audit Committee. Maybe they should read their papers. Year after year our external auditors state that this council manages its finances well and offers good value for money.
And the boroughs that are in a mess currently, tend to be Tory ones.

In contrast what has happened over the past few years, let’s call them the austerity years, is that here in Sutton we have done everything we can to avoid passing on too much of the pain.
We have squeezed and scrimped and managed to close a budget gap of £83 million over the last eight years, that is more than half of our total budget in 2010.
But despite all this, government cuts mean we still have a further £22 million to find just to continue limping on, so we need to raise council tax.
The opposition will condemn us for this, but what will the borough look like if we don’t?

Well we would be closing libraries and childrens’ centres, stopping meals on wheels. Only the most desperate cases will receive social care support. Our roads and streets will fall into disrepair, unmaintained and dirty. Our parks will be scruffy and unattractive.
It will be a case of back to the eighties. Because that is exactly what the borough looked like back then, after years of Conservative control. By the mid-eighties Sutton had a reputation as a run-down borough.
It was a deliberate neglect of the borough that was the quid pro quo for keeping taxes low under Conservative policy. A policy that led to the Lib Dems eventually taking control, and retaining it for over 30 years.
We got elected on the back of a promise to improve the borough, and with the honesty that we would raise council taxes to pay for those improvements. Not only did we deliver on our promises, but we took Sutton and made it one of the best places to live, work and raise a family.
We need more honesty that low taxes mean you don’t get quality services.
If residents are happy to go back to the poor state the borough was in under Tory rule in return for low taxes then they have that choice. But that is not what I am hearing. Residents have got used to living in a well-maintained borough and don’t like to see it slip one bit.

Claims that the conservatives would manage the council better is a joke. The reason that councils are underfunded is due to the enormous balls-up the Conservatives are making of running the country.
There are too many examples of Conservative incompetency: Boris’ garden bridge, Crossrail, that ferry contract, Graylings’ Virgin trains deal, Universal Credit, the housing crisis…..
Is that really the example they want us to follow?

Whilst the Conservatives are fighting for who will be next up the greasy leadership pole, the economy is paralysed with uncertainty. Billions have been wasted on this Brexit clusterbomb, billions which could have been spent on our NHS, on Policing, and on local government services.

Yet they sit there happily supporting their government’s self-imposed austerity, self-imposed economic wrecking-ball, self-imposed self-implosion.

On that track record, I wouldn’t let a Conservative near a piggy bank, never mind a council budget.

 

 

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Supporting Marie Curie

I was pleased to support Marie Curie by giving a couple of hours of my time to help raise funds through their Great Daffodil Appeal.

At the end of my session giving out daffodil pins in the Sutton Morrisons store my bucket was nicely heavy.

Marie Curie is a charitable organisation that provides care and support through terminal illness.

For free confidential support and practical information about terminal illness call their number 0800 090 2309.

To donate look out for collectors in your area throughout March – you can’t miss them in their yellow tabards. Or you can text DAFF to 78866 to give £5.

 

Be sure to wear your daffodil and show your support.

 

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

January 2019 Council Meeting Part 2

Tories fail to support Lib Dem motion to end schools and SEND underfunding

Parties unite on Conservative call to promote Hindu and Buddhist new year

After a short adjournment of the meeting to allow the crowds there for the Parking Strategy to disperse, the business of the council recommenced.

Lib Dems call for fair funding for Sutton’s schools

Cllr Jenny Batt, Vice-chair of the People Committee, had set out a motion condemning the underfunding of schools and pupils with Special Educational Needs as a result of the Government’s new schools funding formula. It had been expected that this was a motion the Conservative and Independent councillors would willingly support.

Tory Leader in public row with officers

However before the debate could get underway we were treated to the spectacle of the Tory Leader, Tim Crowley, publicly arguing with the Council’s Monitoring Officer over an amendment they had submitted that had been disallowed. This was clearly the continuation of an argument that had taken place earlier as the result of the Conservative Leader’s refusal to accept the Monitoring Officer’s ruling.

The Monitoring Officer calmly referred to the Council’s Constitution, to remind Cllrs Crowley that an amendment cannot be accepted if rather than adding to a motion, it seeks to negate it. She reiterated her advice that the purpose of debates at council were to argue areas of disagreement which then could be resolved between the parties if acceptable. Cllr Crowley continued to push, pointing out that their area of disagreement was a point of fact, which the officer again highlighted could be resolved in the debate, but not via an amendment that negated the whole motion.

The Conservative Leader’s response to not getting his way was petulant, advising the Mayor that his group would therefore not be participating in the debate.

Finally, to the Schools Funding debate

Cllr Batt proposed the motion explaining how, like boroughs across the UK, Sutton was seeing increasing numbers of students, including students with severe or complex disabilities requiring significant extra support, and yet Government spending per pupil was now lower than it was in 2010. Cllr Ed Joyce, previously a teacher in a Sutton secondary school, explained the toll this underfunding was taking on teachers, with many leaving the profession, and recruitment at an all time low. We heard how teachers unions were striking in protest at the impacts of the new formula, which would hinder their ability to deliver the excellent education all students deserve.

In response Cllr Neil Garratt broke ranks and sought to copy his recent backer, Nick Mattey, by using diversionary tactics. He chose to talk about school buildings and planning, rather than schools funding, repeating well-rehearsed claims that building was delayed due to prioritising the Belmont site over Rosehill. This was in deliberate denial of the planning principles applicable to MOL land that meant this was the only way the council could have proceeded. Had we followed the Tories’ preferred option of delivering Rosehill first, we would have faced the embarrassment of the planning application being refused, along with a significant delay to getting any school built. Cllr Mattey’s case for the Belmont school being too small for purpose was also somewhat trite given the school build is almost complete and the Harris Academy preparing to move in later this year.

In her response to the debate Cllr Jenny Batt saw off Cllr Garratt’s accusations of wasting money on the new school build by highlighting that the funding was managed by the Department for Education, not the council. Further embarrassment ensued for the Tories as they failed to support the condemnation of underfunding of the borough’s schools and abstained from the vote, despite their own MP Paul Scully having signed a letter alongside other MPs calling on the Secretary of State for Education to recognise the crisis in High Needs Funding for children with SEND.

Councillor Nandha’s motion brings religious harmony

After an acrimonious meeting, Conservative Councillor Param Nandha managed to achieve a harmonious conclusion to the meeting with his motion asking the council to recognise the Hindu/Singala New Year that falls on April 14th.

A minor amendment to the motion adding a commitment to help promote key festivals of the other main religions had been amicably agreed between Cllrs Dombey and Nandha prior to the meeting.

However even this short debate was not without its bizarre turn.

Independent Councillor Nick Mattey had clearly not seen the agreed amendment set out on the table before him. As a result the leader of the Sutton Independent Group stood up to make the same point about extending the recognition to other religious groups.

However the religions Cllr Mattey specifically cited were Druidism and Satanism.

There were stunned looks of disbelief from all sides of the room as this proposal dropped like a stone.

Like guests tactfully ignoring the antics of an embarrassing relative at a family celebration, the motion was unanimously agreed without further reference to Cllr Mattey’s contribution.

 

 

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Committee Meeting | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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