Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Support your local small businesses on Saturday 5th December


Small Business Saturday is an initiative that supports small local businesses by encouraging their communities to ‘shop local’. It is an opportunity for small businesses to showcase themselves and to grow by demonstrating the quality and value that it can give to its customers and how it differentiates itself from its larger competitors.

This year to support Small Business Saturday Sutton Council is offering free parking in locations throughout the Borough to encourage shoppers to shop locally and support their local high streets including Gibson Road, Wallington Library, Carshalton High Street, Kingsway Road Carpark Cheam.

There are 7,400 SMEs in Sutton and they rely on your support. Show them some love on Saturday 5th December.

And if you are a small business looking for help and advice the Sutton Chamber of Commerce run 121 Business Clinics offering just that. See their website for more details. Or check out the Council’s Opportunity Sutton website for details of its Business Rate Relief scheme for small businesses and other support and information.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Information | , , , , | Leave a comment

Festive Light Switch-on back for 2015

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The local people who brought us Wallington’s first Festive Switch-on promised it would be back for a second year, so aided and abetted by the Wallington North and South ward councillors the big night is set for 3rd December.

Chief organiser Ric Adams was keen to ensure that it is bigger and better than last year and thanks especially to Thea and Andy of The Brook it will be. Having got the party started at the Wallington Music Festival they have booked the Harry Satcher Band to do a session at our switch-on, as well as another Festival favourite Firehorse, and the Big Mack Band who are regulars (playing) in the Wallington Arms.

The festivities start at 5.30pm and focus on the Old Town Hall where Sutton Mayor Muhammad Sadiq will be joined by Tom Brake MP and the young winner of Tom’s Christmas Card competition to perform the official switching on of the Wallington lights at 6.30pm.

Wallington Square will play host to local traders with stalls full of goodies including mulled wine and mince pies.

There will also be performances from local school choirs and even Morris Dancers!

Last year was fantastic fun so please show your support again for this community organised, Wallington-focussed festive celebration.

November 19, 2015 Posted by | Information | , , | Leave a comment

New serviced office space and meeting rooms available in central Sutton

I wCitySkylineas very pleased to be shown around the new serviced offices in the St Nicholas Business Centre, Sutton by James Hale, the Managing Director of City Skyline.

City Skyline are a boutique operator of high quality fully serviced office centres with established suites in Epsom and New Malden. They have now refurbished 9,000 sq ft of Chancery House to provide high quality contemporary office suites  in a prime Sutton town centre location.chancery house 2

This not only represents a positive new business venture for Sutton, but provides a great offer for new or established businesses looking for a professional and hassle-free environment.

November 8, 2015 Posted by | Information | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Conservatives signal the beginning of the end for social housing

Successive announcements by George Osborne and David Cameron at their 2015 Party Conference signalled a concerted attack on affordable rents and finally revealed the Conservative’s ideological opposition to social housing.

I had seen their clumsy early policies to stimulate more housing as simply incompetence rather than by design. Take the relaxation of permitted development rules to enable the unregulated conversion of offices into residential properties.  An idea that enables developers to pack an abundance of profitable flatlets into a building that wasn’t originally designed for the purpose and without any requirement to offer any at an ‘affordable’ rent, or to make a contribution to mitigate the impacts of suddenly bringing a large number of new residents into an area, who will necessarily require healthcare, parking spaces or transport infrastructure, and school places.

With hindsight I now see that the removal of any obligation to provide an element of social housing in these cases was probably the key driver.

The push to encourage right-to-buy of council properties by offering too-good-to-refuse discounts during their coalition partnership, and the current extension of this to be applied to housing associations is a back door way of eroding the amount of existing social housing. The rules and restrictions placed on the use of the right-to-buy receipts purportedly to support one for one replacements were so convoluted as to make it impossible to deliver anything like the number of replacements required.

I am not surprised that the National Federation of Housing has agreed to a voluntary arrangement on right-to-buy for housing associations – they are fighting for their very existence against a government that is using spurious claims of mismanagement to mask their determination to dissolve the sector altogether. And the requirement for local authorities to sell off their higher-value council properties to pay for this policy is yet another sneaky way to reduce the social housing available.

The imposed reduction on council housing rents is set to make local authorities’ housing revenue accounts unsustainable and significantly reduce their capacity to build new council properties. This is also an interesting picture of how the Conservatives truly see the principle of devolution – devolve the debt and the responsibility, but retain the powers to make the management of that responsibility subject to the whim of central government, and as in this case, undermine it. (See also New Homes Bonus – used as an incentive to build until it starts to generate cash, then call it back in for the Treasury to redistribute.)

The bedroom tax and welfare reforms have all led to what is effectively a social cleansing of the poor from central London. Clearly their vision for central London is for it to be solely the playground of the rich and an asset bank for foreign investors, with the people on low wages who actually keep the city running and enable the better-off to have a good time banished to the peripheries of London or even further, and not allowed to get any richer thanks to the extortionate costs of travelling into London.

And so it all became clear in George Osborne’s key speech on Tuesday. He announced that his government would focus on building more housing – for families to buy! The silence on any commitment to social or affordable housing was deafening. Cameron backed this up with his announcement that they would remove the planning obligation to provide an affordable element on new developments in return for discounted homes for first time buyers. And note that those first time buyers still need to be pretty well off to afford the ‘discounted’ price. It represents the ingrained Conservative ideology that it is all about property. You are nobody unless you own your own house. Or own your own house and rent out the other property you own to make a tidy profit*.

The direction of travel is clear. The question is whether by the end of the Conservatives term in office there will be any social housing left for others to save.

In Sutton we are committed to addressing the housing crisis and working to deliver more homes for local people. We have plans in process to deliver over 100 new council homes using our right to buy receipts. We applied and were granted Housing Zone status from the Mayor of London which should see the faster delivery of over 1,000 new homes in Sutton in the next four years. And we have now formally established our council-owned housing development company Sutton Living Ltd with the aim of delivering new homes across all tenures – market for sale, private rented and social housing with the key aim that they meet local housing need and are offered at prices local people can afford. The local Conservative opposition did their best to scupper these plans by tabling their key concern: that the company would be a way of avoiding right-to-buy and had written to DCLG to imply this. It isn’t, but this shows that our local Tories are firmly on-message with their Party’s determination to steadily erode social housing and prevent opportunities to deliver affordable rents.



*If you want an insight into the origins of this ingrained ideology take a look at Harry Mount’s book: How England made the English.
In chapter 6: Georgian Hedge Funds Harry points out the unique position in England whereby most of the land is still held, relatively, by the few, and those few are the aristocrats and rural gentry.“In a land-starved, people-packed country, landowners can sell off tiny twenty-acre portions of their estates to a supermarket, raise millions and keep their hands on those hundreds of thousands of acres they’ve clung on to. Sir Reginald Sheffield, Bt, David Cameron’s father-in-law, who owns 3,000 acres of Lincolnshire and two stately homes, says he survives on a small private income ‘garnished with a few planning permissions’.”

October 9, 2015 Posted by | Liberal Democrats, Opinion | , , , , | Leave a comment

TfL consultation on re-routing of 463 bus


463 Map

Transport for London is formally consulting on the re-routing of the 463 bus route. The proposal is to direct the bus via Maldon Road, Montagu Gardens and Demesne Road in Wallington.

There has been considerable concern expressed about this re-routing by local residents, and in response it is being formally opposed by the relevant ward councillors, Tom Brake MP, and the council’s lead member for Transport.

However, Transport for London have advised that they will not accept views sent in to your MP or Councillors as part of their consultation process. This means that residents need to visit the web-site to register their concerns with TfL directly.

We would therefore urge anyone with views on the proposal to visit the website and make their comments through this formal survey:  http://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/route-463

This is a consultation, and TfL will make their decision on whether the 463 route should be altered or not, based on the responses that they receive. The consultation is open until 9th October 2015.

September 15, 2015 Posted by | Information | | 2 Comments


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