Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Tuesday 23rd September 7.30pm

Scrutiny Overview Committee

The two main topics of interest on the agenda were the second evidence gathering session on Direct Payments and a progress report on the relocation of Stanley Park High School.


To help the committee with its review of the low uptake of direct payments in Sutton four parents of children from different age bands that were in receipt of direct payments had been invited to answer questions on their experiences. In an attempt to make the session less formal and intimidating we all moved away from the table and sat in a circle.


From previous experience I was aware that the Tory councillors’ questioning can sometimes come across as quite aggressive, even perhaps when they don’t mean to be, so I was keen to get in first with a ‘gentle’ question to try to put the parents at ease, rather than feel they were under interrogation. The discussions went extremely well and the parents gave us an excellent insight into their experiences with direct payments. They also had some very useful suggestions for ways to improve the take up, the main one being to build on the fact that a lot of information was passed from parent to parent.


I was pleased to hear that generally the parents’ experience of direct payments had been very positive, but there were fragmentations within the system that meant that all parents’ experiences were not the same.


The progress report on the building and relocation of Stanley Park High School detailed the risks still identified as being barriers to the project and gave the results of the independent CABE design review. As one of a number of school rebuilding projects nationally we were pleased to hear that the CABE review had given Stanley Park the highest score of the projects so far and was being cited as an example of best practice in this area. However it was apparent that some of the risks associated with the project were still highly significant. There was much questioning along these lines.


I sought information following up on some issues that had arisen at the previous update.


Of particular significance for Wallington South was the understanding that a proper planning framework was needed for the existing site in advance of its disposal. This is something that Colin, Richard & I are keeping a close eye on. We have already expressed our desire to get resident engagement and involvement in considering the future for this site and we will be working with the planning department to achieve this end.


October 20, 2008 - Posted by | Committee Meeting

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