Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Tuesday 7th October 7.30pm

Beddington & Wallington Local Committee Meeting

We had some interesting items to get our teeth into at this meeting. First up was an update on the Better Healthcare Closer to Home (BHCH) programme and how it might impact us locally, presented by Stephen Waring the programme director. As the Shotfield Health Centre is an integral part of the programme Beddington & Wallington residents are set to benefit directly. There was an insightful question from a member of the public about the Carshalton War Memorial hospital which sparked a lively debate. Having received previous reassurances that the site would continue to be used for health purposes as an intermediate care centre it became apparent that under BHCH it would no longer be required for this purpose. Stephen Waring advised that the aim was to provide more intermediate care in peoples’ homes – around 80%, with just one NHS intermediate care facility therefore needed for Sutton & Merton, to be provided at the Wilson hospital in Merton. There were opinions expressed that the site should continue to be used for health provision, as that was the purpose of the building. Others accepted that the building may not be fit for purpose but as a war memorial sensitivity needed to be given to the future of the site. I thought that this was a useful discussion as the NHS representatives could not fail to appreciate the strength of feeling of residents about the Carshalton hospital.

 

Next up was an item about the traffic and road safety problems at Butter Hill. Wallington North ward councillors have been seeking action on the traffic problems in this area for some time and Cllr. Hartfield requested it as an agenda item to see if any progress had been made towards finding a solution. Faran Forghani the Acting Traffic and Highway Works manager advised us of two trial schemes that he wanted to put in place to see which worked best. One involved a priority scheme, the other required traffic lights and would be more expensive to implement permanently. There was heated discussion amongst residents & members with some favouring one scheme over the other, but no agreement on which. It was agreed by the committee that trialling the two schemes was the best way forward and we would receive the results of the trial at a future meeting.

 

This was followed by a presentation of the results of the consultation on the trial smoking ban in Beddington Park children’s playground. The results were strongly in favour of making the trial permanent and the committee needed to make decisions on rolling out the policy to other playgrounds in the area. There was some debate about the signage. The Parks Department had been aspiring to erect signs in playgrounds across the borough detailing useful local information & bylaws but at £400 a time did not have the budget to do so. Adding a request not to smoke in the playground would not increase the cost of the signs but gave the committee the opportunity to fund the signs out of its Public Realm budget whilst also implementing the policy. One of the Tory councillors was concerned that the sign already erected in Beddington Park did not contain the full text of the bylaws he thought the committee had agreed to. Mark Dalzell the Head of the Parks Department pointed out that the sign would need to be at least double the size to contain the full text of the bylaws and it had been the intention to summarise the bylaws not detail the full legal text. The same councillor next stated that if the trial was to be made permanent then the sign should state that smoking was banned in the playground, rather than the current wording which was a request not to smoke. I found this oddly contradictory when he then stated that he didn’t agree with the policy anyway. The committee reached agreement that as the policy was being introduced voluntarily by the committee and was not a legally enforceable ‘ban’ the wording was satisfactory and should be repeated on new signs, but given greater prominence than the current sign in Beddington Park. It was agreed to fund signage carrying the no smoking request for all the children’s playgrounds in Beddington & Wallington, but not to make recommendations to other Local Committees. The point was made that there would be opportunity to read the minutes of our meeting & members or residents could bring the matter up with their own local committee if they so wished.

 

We had further public realm funding decisions to make regarding match funding the Eco-Local Bicycle Scheme, which received committee approval, and also adding to the playground improvements for St Mary’s Field playground. New children’s play equipment is to be installed thanks to funding from Viridor waste management and match funded from our public realm budget. The friends of the park were now requesting funding for tables, seating & litter bins to complete the area and this was agreed by the committee.

 

Finally we came to the issue of the air raid shelters in Woodcote Green & Mellows Park. The committee had received a suggestion that these structures be demolished to allow landscaping of the areas. We had received a report from the Heritage Manager, John Phillips, stating that the shelters were the last remaining shelters of their kind in the borough and were worth preserving for their historical significance. Some of the committee’s special advisors felt that the shelters were eyesores, and whilst not advocating demolition, they were not worth spending money on. However members of the public in the audience felt very differently and said that it was an insult to have even considered getting rid of the shelters which had saved many lives during the Second World War. There were some advocates from the committee to preserve them to serve as reminders to our children. The committee decided to commit a small amount of funding to carry out basic maintenance work to the shelters & erect signs explaining their significance. The Heritage Manager was also tasked with approaching local schools to see if there would be any interest in making use of the shelters as teaching resources bearing in mind that World War II was a curriculum topic at both primary & secondary schools.

woodcote-ar-shelter

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November 11, 2008 - Posted by | Committee Meeting

1 Comment »

  1. Re traffic problems at Butter Hill. I don’t know the specific location but the fatal flaw common to most road systems is main road priority, which confers superior rights on main roads at the expense of minor road traffic and pedestrians, and makes roads dangerous in the first place. Remove priority, and you remove the “need” for lights and the need for speed, enabling everyone to do what is natural and safe: approach considerately, give way to others who were there first, and filter. It’s what we do in all other walks of life. It’s only on the road where we have to fight for survival, gaps and green time. I would be happy to visit and advise. Traffic lights would almost certainly be a retrograde step. Civilised and sustainable solutions lie in ditching priority, and using subtle re-design to stimulate appropriate conduct. See FiT Roads / Martin Cassini

    Comment by Martin Cassini | November 11, 2008 | Reply


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