Once again our residents here in Sutton are being fed toxic literature from our local Tories full of lies and smears against the Lib Dems.
We saw these tactics in the Wallington South by-election, and observed the ruthless Tory in-fighting during and after the EU referendum, so perhaps we should not be surprised when the local Conservatives employ them here yet again.
In the Wallington by-election they circulated made up stories of high rise buildings planned for the car park, the selling off of heritage buildings, and removal of pedestrian crossings, none of which proved true.
Now they are peddling lies about The Lodge claiming the council sold it off when in fact it remains in council ownership and has been leased to a local charity to retain it in community use – just as residents asked us to.
The Conservatives also claim in their leaflets that the Belmont site is too small for a secondary school despite knowing that plans are being drafted to build a 6-form entry secondary school that will offer fantastic opportunities for our young people due to its co-location with the London Cancer Hub. Sutton actually has an excellent track record for delivering school places at its award winning and high performing schools.
A smear campaign
Worse still is the Conservatives’ deliberate and grubby smear campaign to trash the reputation of hard-working local Lib Dems. They slyly insinuate that the allegations against the councillor who resigned is connected with the council, and leak internal email conversations to imply Cllr Mathys meant something she didn’t in a campaign that amounts to bullying. Anyone who works with Wendy knows she always has the best interests of the borough’s young people at heart and fights tooth and nail to get the best deal for them despite the Tory cuts imposed on councils. Nor does our MP Tom Brake escape from their malicious smears, or indeed ex-councillors who are no longer around to defend themselves. Legal action has had to be taken against the Conservative libel because it is pure fiction.
Tory resignation in disgust
So unpleasant have Tory tactics become since the last election that one of their own Cllr Graham Whitham, twice the leader of the Conservative council group, resigned his membership of the Conservatives in absolute disgust at the nasty party they had become both nationally and locally. Cllr Whitham was one of those Conservatives who always conducted himself with honour and reasonableness and with whom I have been pleased to work. It is sad for him that he felt that his party had strayed so far beyond the pale in its tactics that he could no longer be a member.
So when the Conservatives come knocking, be sure to ask them if they condone the use of smears as campaign tools, and stand by the lies in their leaflets.
A high performing and caring Council
The Liberal Democrat run Sutton council is regularly quoted in best practice examples by the Local Government Association and others and receives awards. It’s recent peer review was glowing and we have one of the highest resident satisfaction ratings in the UK.
Our residents tell us the reason they keep voting The Liberal Democrats back in here is because they trust us to do our best for them, and be honest with them about the issues we face. We engage widely and regularly with our residents, work alongside them in the community ourselves, and we are not afraid to consult on the difficult issues as well as the good ones. And we listen, because we are here to try our best to deliver the borough our residents want.
A small number of people with views to the far right used the EU Leave campaign as an excuse to legitimise racism. Now the country has voted to Leave the EU we are starting to hear about incidents of racism where they had not been encountered before.
The Police Borough Commander has written to us to advise that the Met Police are taking action to provide reassurance to communities and that any incidences of hate crime will not be tolerated and will be investigated.
The local Police advise that they have had no incidences recorded, however I have lately received reports of local people being racially abused both during and after the campaign.
I would strongly advise anyone who has been subjected to racist abuse to report it to the Police. We need to stamp down on this quickly and hard and be clear that racism and hate crime is not acceptable under any circumstances in the London Borough of Sutton.
I believe that the vast majority of people in Sutton are kind, tolerant, thoughtful people who find racism abhorrent, and the people who voted to leave the EU did so for reasons a million miles away from the views of these Far Right groups. Which makes it all the more important that we stand united to fight any upsurge in racism in our local area.
Police letter below:
UK EU Referendum : Keeping London Safe and Secure Together
The EU Referendum may have divided public opinion, but one thing that I am certain we can all agree upon is our great liberal values, including the principles of democracy and tolerance. The very large majority of us are proud of our nation’s diversity and the value that difference can bring. This is obvious in our #westandtogether campaigns, when all communities of all backgrounds and from every neighbourhood stand together in unity against hatred and extremism. We are also highly aware that some critical events, whether at home or abroad, can incite incidents of intolerance and/or hate which we will not tolerate. We are also mindful that when this happens communities can feel insecure and unsafe. The MPS has responded quickly by putting in place a comprehensive policing plan across each borough that will enable us to communicate directly with communities to reassure them; to engage at a personal level in local communities, building further trust and confidence; to have local policing plans that provide highly visible policing at times and in locations which meet the needs of our communities; and to monitor community sentiment through a rolling community impact assessment. There have been some isolated incidents of hate crimes and I am proud of the way in which communities have come together and shown unity. Any act of hate crime is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. We would appeal to anyone who witnesses or suffers any hate crime to come forward and report it immediately. We have over 900 specialist detectives who investigate all hate crimes and want to bring offenders to justice. I would like to encourage you to get to know your local Neighbourhood Officers who will be able to offer support and friendship.
With my best wishes,
Mak Chishty Commander Engagement
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.
I will start with HOUSING
Sutton is building council houses for the first time for many years
Previously the government took money away from Sutton to pay for housing in other places. When the rules were changed we immediately took the opportunity to start building again. We now have planning permission to start building 93 new homes across three sites.
Council housing protected for Sutton residents
You need to have lived in Sutton for at least two years to be eligible for council housing in the borough.
Council tenancies for Life
When councils were given the freedom to do away with tenancies for life we consulted with tenants and abided by their wish to retain lifetime tenancies. Unfortunately the Housing & Planning Bill recently passed by Parliament no longer allows us to do this so new tenancies granted will not be for life.
Improving existing council homes
The council has spent £140 million over the past 4 years improving people’s council properties. This has included installing new kitchens and bathrooms, new windows and doors, and major renovation projects like Balaam House and Chaucer House. Many of these measures will improve the energy efficiency of these properties resulting in lower heating bills.
Increasing the number of houses for purchase and rent
The council has been encouraging developers to build new homes in Sutton. We have done this by marketing Sutton and by having positive working relationships with developers. This has enabled us to ensure family houses are built as well as one and two bedrooms flats, and that developers make contributions to improve the area around their development. We have also worked hard to get a good amount of affordable homes delivered as part of private developments.
The work on delivering a new Local Plan means our planning polices will direct housing development to suitable locations and demand high quality, sustainable design that works well with the area.
The regeneration of the Durand Estate is now in its third phase with a total of over 700 homes (250 net additional homes) due to be provided under the Partnership working with Affinity Sutton, Rydons and the residents. The area has been transformed and renamed The Lavenders.
Setting up a council owned housing development company to deliver homes
Called Sutton Living Ltd this company means the council can buy empty properties and rent them out, build new homes for sale or rent, or partner with house builders or social housing providers to help deliver additional housing. As the council knows what type of housing residents need in the borough it can use Sutton Living to deliver the right type of housing, and keep prices affordable. It also has a policy of ensuring new properties, whether to rent or sell, are offered to Sutton residents first. It also enabled the council to get extra help from the London Mayor through becoming a Housing Zone. Any profits generated will either be reinvested in delivering more housing or given back to the council to spend on services for residents.
New specialist housing
This year the council opened Dymond House, a new facility especially to house people with Dementia, as well as people with learning disabilities and a reablement centre.
In Cheam Elizabeth House was rebuilt to provide high quality sheltered housing for older people replacing the outdated original building which had no lifts and communal bathrooms.
And it was not long ago that bespoke-designed housing was built for people with learning disabilities to enable them to live more independently outside of institutions following the closure of Orchard Hill.
Helping people into the private rented sector
The council works with good landlords to encourage them to offer quality accommodation to residents. The council can help with deposits and housing allowance transfers.
The council also takes a hard line against landlords that break the regulations they must abide by and put tenants at risk. We have had a number of successful prosecutions against such landlords.
Lobbying Government on behalf of Sutton residents
We responded to consultations on the Housing & Planning Bill highlighting that it would make finding local affordable housing even harder, cause council tenants to face insecurity and eviction and reduce the amount of social housing available and deter social housing being built.
Acid Drop Copse presents “The Somme”
Evil and the incarnate fiend can alone be master of this war, and no glimmer of God’s hand can be seen anywhere. Sunset and sunrise are blasphemous, they are mockeries to man, only the black rain out of the bruised and swollen clouds all through the bitter black of night is fit atmosphere in such a land.
A group of diverse artists who go by the name “Acid Drop Copse” come together in an exhibition to commemorate the Battle of the Somme at Honeywood in Carshalton, Surrey from 22nd June until 31st July 2016. The show will then transfer to the ArtMoorHouse Gallery in the City of London in November for Remembrance Day.
In disciplines ranging from sculpture, metal casting, encaustic art, oil painting, print making, ceramics, floristry, collage and contemporary jewellery, these practitioners are united by a desire t0 examine and reinterpret the events that began on July 1st 1916 in Picardy.
Acid Drop Copse was a wood in the battlefields of the Somme, destroyed by the war and so nick-named by the soldiers after the tart acid-drop boiled sweet they knew from home. The art collective was inspired by this name, and like the confection, is a complex mixture of bitter and sweet surprises, promising to make for a diverse and thought-provoking exhibition.
The flooding under the railway bridge in Manor Road, Wallington has made the national news with pictures of the submerged cars and the dramatic rescue thanks to a quick thinking local man.
The reason the road dips so dramatically here is that it was lowered many years ago to allow double decker buses under the bridge. However this dip means that in severe weather all the local runoff gets directed into the dip and there were a number of occasions when significant rainfall resulted in floods under the bridge.
A major part of the 2011 improvement works involved addressing the flooding issues under the railway bridge. This involved installing four new soakaways* in Beddington Gardens, Ross Parade and Woodcote Road and improving the existing one under the bridge.
These five soakaways appeared to have addressed the problem, until Tuesday’s rainstorm.
We know that exceptional amounts of rainfall does lead to some drains being unable to cope with the volume leading to what is known as flash flooding. Apparently the rainfall this time was so torrential that elsewhere the sheer force of water gushing through the drains pushed the drain covers off, including in Stafford Road.
Sutton Council does undertake a program of gully & drain clearing – look out for a small lorry with a tube going into the drains, but I don’t know when the soakaways were last checked. As your ward councillors we will of course be finding out whether there were any issues with cleaning that may have contributed to the situation.
Update 10th June – feedback from council on gully cleaning:
Roads noted as high flood risk have a gully cleanse quarterly. The most recent gully cleanse of Manor Road from Wallington Green to the traffic lights at Sainsbury’s was on 14th April 2016. It is on the high flood risk list so is cleaned quarterly and would be due again in July. No issues were noted on last clean. All the other roads in the town centre were done in mid May around the 18th including Ross Road, Ross Parade, Elgin Road to the east of the town Centre and Shotfield, Parks Hill Ave and Beddington Gardens to the west. These roads all feed down to the sewer under the bridge.
*According to Susdrain Soakaways are square or circular excavations either filled with rubble or lined with brickwork, pre-cast concrete or polyethylene rings/perforated storage structures surrounded by granular backfill. They can be grouped and linked together to drain large areas including highways. The supporting structure and backfill can be substituted by modular or geocellular units.
Soakaways are a sustainable way to provide stormwater attenuation, stormwater treatment and groundwater recharge, are installed underground and are not visible.
To help celebrate the Queen’s 90th Birthday the Wallington Arms are once again offering a free lunch for local senior citizens.
It will take the form of an afternoon tea starting at 12 noon on Friday 10th
This will be the third free Seniors Lunch the Wallington Arms have put on and the feedback from those attending has been very positive.
We think it is lovely that a local business is willing to put on these events for our older residents and think it shows just what lovely people we have in Wallington.
For more information and to reserve places call the pub direct on 0208 773 0404