Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Full Council 18th July 2011

The Conservatives had requisitioned the Wallington Traders’ petition objecting to the new parking provision in Wallington as a result of the High Street works for debate at Full Council.

I used this opportunity to pay tribute to the residents and stakeholders who had given so much of their time to be involved in the Steering Group in my speech to Council.

Sadly the opposition dismissed our residents’ involvement as irrelevant, claiming that the views of the objecting traders should take precedence.

This position not only ignores the fact that the project already incorporated the views of businesses – the dedicated loading bays were as a result of feedback from businesses visited by Cllr Hall and myself, as well as additional on-street parking being provided in Beddington Gardens, it also fails to understand that the local residents are the very customers the businesses are seeking to attract, so their views on how they use the district centre are vitally important.

I was particularly angry that the opposition members felt able to undermine the involvement of our residents and stakeholders in this way without having had the priviledge of witnessing the Members and Stakeholders Group in action.

The text of my speech was as follows:

“Ever since I became a councillor for Wallington South residents have said to me, “When are you going to do something to improve Wallington?

This project has been resident-led right from this early steer to help the local economy and improve the area, through two wide ranging consultations, and throughout the implementation stage of the work.

And we didn’t just ask residents’ opinions, we asked for participation in the key decisions of the project through membership of a Members & Stakeholders group.

I would like to focus on the members of that group, who volunteered as representatives of local resident associations, businesses, and other local bodies, and the contribution they have made to the Wallington project.

First I would like to pay tribute to Richard Sammons, who has been the longest serving member of the group. He got involved as representative of the South Wallington and District Residents Association. Richard has been a strong supporter of the key principles behind the scheme, and was the first to insist that in return for removing the pop and shop parking to address the congestion problem, we introduce 30 minutes free parking in the library car park.

Keith Knight, representing Springboard Residents Association has been a regular attendee always making useful observations and ensuring that commonsense has been applied throughout.

Colin Wadeson, representative of the Woodcote Avenue Road Fund Committee, another regular attendee, who I remember being one of the early advocates of the need for investment in Wallington district centre.

Mick Park and Maureen Quick representatives of Hendfield Court.MrPark was specifically invited onto the steering group because he and his fellow residents had serious concerns about the impact of the changes, especially the one way stretch, on the traffic situation near them. Mr Park’s contribution has been especially helpful in ensuring the safety and tidiness of the area during the works.

Simon Vines representing Orchard Hill College has attended many of the meetings and has sent us a letter from which I quote, “From the outset our concerns were listened and responded to.” And “Without doubt the improvements to the High Street have significantly enhanced ease of access for disabled people.”

Mr Tony Rowland and Jeremy Sandford of Richard Marks have been faithful attendees, representing local business together with a couple of attendances by representatives of the owners of Wallington Square. These members have also been key advocates for improvements to the public realm.

Colin Quemby representing local cycling groups has attended regularly and provided his expert advice on the cycling provision.

Vic Robinson of Cobblers Awl came a little late to the group but has been a regular attendee thereafter, often bringing numerous colleagues, to ensure that we were in no doubt as to his views about the parking changes. His input resulted in five new on street parking bays being put into Beddington Gardens.

Glenise Coxon, Steve Cook and David Duncan have all attended in turns ensuring faithful representation of the Onslow Gardens Residents Association, and who have also invited us to their meetings to provide information about the scheme direct to their group.

We have also had representation from Scola and the Friends of Wallington Library, and this is a good example of the discussions and decision-making that went on in these groups. A part of the scheme around the Old Town Hall was dropped entirely because of the disruption and encroachment on the library gardens. On the other hand the Friends’ objection to reducing the height of the old town hall wall was overruled by the majority of the stakeholder group and I have to pay tribute to Mrs Turrell for gracefully accepting this democratic decision. I hope that she has found that the fears of the Friends about the wall have not been realised and can see that the safety of the area has been improved as a result.

Many other representatives have attended these meetings as and when they could and attendance has ranged from between 7 to 30 people excluding councillors.

And I think every member of that group will attest to how the scheme has evolved and been flexible in accommodating the views expressed by representatives, without sacrificing democratic principles.

 I want to thank all those who attended the meetings for giving up so much of their time: this project is a success because of them.”

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July 19, 2011 - Posted by | Committee Meeting | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Thank you for your information and kind comments. How can the Conservatives say that traders should take precedence after all TFL money comes from RESIDENTS taxes??!! Also how can they even suggest that residents are irrelevant!! I’ll remember those comment at the next election…..

    Comment by Anonymous | July 21, 2011 | Reply

  2. I have to say that I am very impressed with the new look Wallington, very clean and reminiscent of some very smart french towns I have visited in Northern France. A much much better job than the travesty that is Sutton High Street. I am aware of the concerns of some traders, but the free half hour for cars in the Library car park must compensate…maybe need to do the same in the Wallington Hall car park. Overall Wallington looks like it is not suffering the way other High Streets are in the recession

    Comment by Mike Lyon | July 27, 2011 | Reply


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