Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Wallington South Councillors’ Spring Update 2019

It’s officially Spring, but the weather appears less certain. Some days we get a bit of sunshine, the next a downpour of rain. Well it is April! Here is what we have been up to since our last update.

WARD NEWS

The pond and fountain in the library gardens

Works to restore the pond and fountain in the library gardens have had to be put on hold thanks to repeated vandalism and theft of the pump. There is also a slow leak in the pond that will be expensive to fix.

We do not think that we should let the activities of a few thoughtless people with no respect for the property of others deprive us of our fountain, which is part of the original design of the library, so we have asked for options and costings to repair the pond and fountain.

Do you agree it should be restored or should we give up on it and remove the pond?

If you witness anyone involved in vandalism please do call the police on 999 immediately.

The gates to the library gardens are meant to be left open for access even when the library is closed, however we are still finding the gates are locked on Sundays. The railings are so low they clearly are not a deterrent to those planning access for criminal activity, and in fact more people using the gardens means they are less attractive to vandals.

We have therefore raised this with the council to ensure that the gates remain unlocked so all our residents can enjoy the gardens.

One-way trial for Tharp Road

Those of you who use Tharp Road will be aware that the on-street parking means that the road is effectively single-lane. It is also used as a cut through from Demesne Road to Plough Lane. Residents in Tharp Road complain of regular problems of cars unable to pass in the road resulting in broken wing mirrors of parked cars and road rage incidents. They asked the council to look into potential solutions and it has been agreed to trial a one-way system from east to west along Tharp Road.

There are obvious concerns about the impact of this on Demesne Road, however the traffic modelling expects the impacts to be minimal. The only real way to test this is to trial it, so that is what have agreed to. The benefit of a trial is that if, after a few weeks for drivers to get used to the one-way system, the impacts are significant and clearly not working, it can be easily cancelled.

Residents in affected and neighbouring roads will be advised of when the trial is due to start.

 

No cycling through Wallington Square

There are signs showing that cycling is not permitted through the pedestrianized Wallington Square, however we have had a number of complaints about youths cycling in the square without due regard to pedestrians and making a nuisance of themselves with the businesses.

When challenged the youths claimed the signs meant they could cycle in the square. This is a simple failure to understand Highways Code signage however, to ensure that there is no misunderstanding and help residents and the police challenge cyclists, we have arranged for simple ‘No cycling’ signage to be added.

Any incidences of cyclists involved in anti-social behaviour likely to cause an accident or intimidation should be reported to the police. Use 999 if it is currently taking place, or you can report it online if it is after the event.

 

Shall we get the Old Town Hall chiming again?

The clock on Wallington Old Town Hall used to have bells chiming out the hours. The chimes were deactivated whilst Orchard Hill College occupied the ground floor so as not to disturb the students. However, Sutton College have now taken over the whole building since Orchard Hill moved to other premises, and they have said that they have no objection to the chimes.

A trial is planned after the Easter holidays and if there are no complaints we will have the bells ringing out the time once again.

 

The Parking Strategy is finally coming to Wallington South

Residents seeking solutions to local parking problems have had to be very patient whilst the council has changed its approach from small ad-hoc schemes to an area-wide review and more holistic approach. The Wallington area was last on the list of areas to be addressed but it is finally our turn.

The strategy involves a three-stage consultation process with Stage 1 seeking information from residents of where the parking problems are in our area. Council officers will combine this information with their own data compiled from other sources and will put out some initial proposals to address the problems for consultation as Stage 2.

Stage 3 will see the proposals revised or withdrawn in response to feedback from stage 2 and final proposals put out to statutory consultation under a required Traffic Management Order.

The final stage of the process will be implementation of the schemes.

From discussions with residents about parking problems we have a rough idea of where the main parking problems are, such as the Ross Road area. Also from talking to residents it is thought that some form of controlled parking is the only way to resolve the worst of the parking problems.

Experience from other areas already going through the stages shows that there can be significant disagreement even within the same road as to what solutions would be acceptable, so we would like to have some early conversations with residents most likely to be affected. We are planning to arrange some meetings with residents in the near future.

 

Wallington Music Festival

The Wallington Music Festival returns once again and will take place on Saturday 15th June.

It will start once again with performances in the Mallinson Room of the library in the morning, with the bandstand in the library gardens being the focal point for performances in the afternoon.

There will be fantastic food provided by Chef RF and the Woodcote Flying Club, as well as other delicacies and a mobile bar.

In the evening the event will spread to local pubs and restaurants offering free entry to enjoy live music late into the evening.

The event is organised by the local community with the help and sponsorship of local businesses and some funding from the council. The aim is to showcase local musical talent and provide an enjoyable event for the community in the heart of Wallington.

 

Wordsworth Road/Sandy Lane South/Foresters Drive junction

For many years residents have raised concerns about this junction. Working with our Beddington South ward colleagues we now have council officers looking at proposals to make this junction safer. When we have some firm proposals they will go out for consultation and we will keep you updated.

 

Telecoms Mast stopped from blighting Woodcote Green

When we learnt of proposals to locate a telecoms mast and cabinets on Woodcote Green just where we had reinstalled the old horse trough and erected a noticeboard we were not happy. Together with local residents we registered our objections and got the plans pulled.

The mast is now to be located on the other side of Woodcote Road near the roundabout where it will be screened among the trees.

Cancer Research UK shop closes

Sadly, despite our efforts, the Cancer Research UK charity shop has now closed. When we heard how badly the volunteer staff had been treated we set up a petition against the closure and currently over 500 people have signed. Tom Brake MP also raised his concerns having met with the staff involved.

Despite this the shop was very quickly closed. We still think we should voice our concerns with the charity about the way they treat its volunteers. You can sign the petition here.

Wallington High School for Girls school events

Wallington Girls school keeps us informed of events at the school that are likely to see an increase in traffic and parking so local residents are pre-warned. Here are the upcoming events for the summer term:

April

  • 24 Welcome to WHSG evening from 5pm-6.30pm* (1)
  • 25 Year 10 Parents Evening from 4-7pm*

May

  • Year 7 Parents’ Evening from 2 – 6.30pm*
  • Welcome to WHSG evening from 5pm – 6.30pm*(2)

June

  • 13 Art Exhibition from 5-6pm*
  • 20 Wellbeing Festival 2-4pm*
  • 27 Sixth Form Induction Day*

July

  • 3 New Year 7 Induction Day**
  • 4 Open Evening 4-8.30pm**
  • 15-17 Enrichment Days (may be coaches arriving/departing beginning and end of school day)

 

PLANNING NEWS

 

DM2018/01835 25-27 Beddington Gardens And 18 Holmwood Gardens Wallington SM6 0JG   Outline planning application to determine access, layout and scale for the demolition of existing houses and the erection of a part 4 storey building and basement comprising a total of thirty seven self-contained flats, with associated hard and soft landscaping, refuse and cycle storage and thirty nine off street parking spaces        Refused

DM2018/01282 40 Wallington Square Wallington SM6 8RG Permission has been granted for change of use of the cab office to become an ice cream parlour.

DM2018/01976 34 Heathdene Road Wallington SM6 0TB Demolition of existing dwelling and the erection of a two storey building with roof accommodation comprising 7 self-contained flats with 5 parking spaces, cycle store, re-cycling store, terraces leading to the rear garden and new front boundary wall and railings. Please note that the current elderly owners of this property intend to still be residing in this property in one of the new flats.

New Applications:

DM2018/01957 Old Town Hall Woodcote Road Wallington SM6 0NB Installation of 2m high gates and railing to the rear

DM2019/00194 No 1-2 Ross Parade & 7-13 Woodcote Road Wallington SM6 8QL Erection of a first floor rear extension, installation of 21 rooflights (front and rear ) to convert roofspace into living accommodation and creation of a shared garden with secure refuse and cycle parking in connection with the provision of seven self contained flats (6X 2-bedroom and 1X 3-bedroom).

 

BEDDINGTON AND WALLINGTON LOCAL COMMITTEE NEWS

The last Beddington & Wallington Local Committee took place on 22nd January at Croygas Sports Club. Items of interest to our ward were:

Capital funding for local schemes

Funding was agreed to continue the planting and maintenance of the hanging baskets and flower troughs in Wallington high street and along Stafford Road. Two flower towers for in front of the old town hall were also agreed for summer, and hanging baskets for the bandstand in the library gardens.

Funding was agreed for the extinguishing of the public right of way through the Ross Parade alleyway to Woodcote Mews and for the alley to be gated.

We were pleased to note that the School Keep Clear markings had been implemented at Sherwood Hill School on Stanley Park Road.

BBQs and Parking Enforcement in Beddington Park

As the trial enforcement has come to an end and had been effective in reducing some of the anti-social behaviour associated with the use of the BBQs proposals were presented to be able to continue with an outside organisation managing enforcement in the park.

Councillors at the meeting did not think there was sufficient information about each of the options and that further discussions with resident groups was required to determine a suitable solution.

As a result the decision was deferred for further work and discussions to be undertaken.

Police Safer Neighbourhood Team Update

We were advised that there had been a reduction in anti-social behaviour in the area thanks to the introduction of alcohol prohibition notices deterring street drinking. However a rise in street beggars on the high street has been noted and the police are monitoring the situation.

The next meeting of the Beddington & Wallington Local Committee will be on 30th April at 7pm again at the Croygas Sports Club.

 

BOROUGH NEWS

Building Council Houses

Ludlow Lodge, Wallington

When the government changed the rules on funding for housing Sutton Council immediately took the opportunity to start building new council housing. The first development at Fellowes Road is already completed with new tenants already in. There are 93 homes being built with full completion due by the summer.

Further funding has been made available so the council is working on plans to build more council homes for local people.

 

EU Citizens Settlement Scheme

In light of Brexit the UK government has reached an agreement with the European Union on citizens’ rights. This will cover those already resident in the UK and those arriving during the period to 31 December 2020.

The agreement protects the rights of EU citizens after the UK leaves the EU and enables them to continue to live their lives as now. It also covers their close family members. The EU settlement scheme is a new service introduced by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) the scheme will open fully from 30th March 2019.

Sutton Register Office will offer a FREE in-person service to scan and verify biometrically chipped passports and ID cards using a device which has been purchased by the Register Office.

In Sutton, Citizens Advice will be providing support to residents to enable them to complete the online application process.

 

Help the Council improve its online services

The council is seeking input from residents to help improve how you access services via the website.

It is holding a number of workshops up until the end of June that you can participate in to shape the council’s digital offer.

You can register here to take part in a workshop to suit you. 

 

So that is it from us for now. We wish you all a happy Easter, and don’t forget your umbrella when you venture out.

Cllr Steve Cook, Cllr Jayne McCoy & Cllr Muhammad Sadiq

Your Lib Dem team for Wallington South

 

 

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April 22, 2019 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chair’s update on the work of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee

HEB meeting 19th March 2019

  • Sutton Town Centre Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan Agreed to go out to consultation
  • Carshalton Village Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan Agreed to go out to consultation
  • Housing Revenue Account 30 year Business Plan annual update Agreed
  • Council/Sutton Housing Partnership Management Agreement review Agreed
  • SHP Annual Delivery Plan Agreed
  • Review of Housing Allocations Policy Agreed with minor cross-party amendment

Expected business for next HEB meeting 2nd July 2019

  • Performance Challenge A review of Key Performance Indicators for this committee
  • Draft Public Realm Guide Supplementary Planning Document for consultation
  • Annual Review of Council Tax Reduction Scheme
  • SFTRA Report on SHP Performance

Other Business since last report 

Sutton Tramlink

Awaiting official announcement from TfL on results of the consultation and their preferred option

Employment and Skills Board

The Board met on Monday 11th March and discussed the following items:

  • Update of the Women Mean Business project
  • Presentation from local business Watkinscole about their positive experiences taking on apprentices
  • Presentation from Carshalton College on their Supported Internship programme
  • Update from the South London Partnership on their Employment and Skills programme of work
  • Partner updates

Successful Sutton the town centre BID has taken on part of the Women Mean Business project and is hosting an awards ceremony to celebrate successful Sutton women. The launch event took place on Friday 8th March and the awards ceremony will take place on 26th September.

School Speed Networking Sessions took place in March organised by Sutton Council and the Girls Learning Trust covering Carshalton Girls, Wallington Girls and Nonsuch. This involved the students getting the opportunity to meet with 70 female ambassadors and quiz them. These women cover police, fire, nursing, management, small business, recruitment, architecture, engineering, voluntary sector, housing and local government. Some are ex-pupils. Cllr Trish Fivey and I each attended one of the events as an ambassador. Feedback from the schools was extremely positive and they want to repeat the activity next year.

In April will also be a Women Mean Business Library Exhibition of 100 Sutton Women and a series of WMB Business Growth workshops (all delivered by local business women).

Beddington Programme

Councillor Manuel Aballan & I continue to receive updates on progress of the overall project.

Formal consultation on HGV restrictions through Beddington Village have resulted in some strong objections from the businesses affected concerned about increased journey times and increased congestion onto major routes. The Beddington BID is also formally objecting to the proposal. Objections have also been received from a Croydon MP and Croydon ward councillors. I had a meeting with the BID chair and vice chair this week to discuss the concerns.

Regeneration

The Regeneration Team will be meeting with Elm Grove residents on 3rd April to update them on progress with design and feasibility work for the estate and to organise the setting up of a Residents Steering Group and appoint an Independent Tenant and Homeowner Advisor.

The Benhill Estate has set up its own Residents Steering Group and meetings are always attended by the ward councillors. A Benhill Estate Regeneration webpage has been set up.

Beech Tree Place residents have set up a Residents Steering Group and are working to appoint an Independent Tenant and Homeowner Advisor. A first newsletter on the Beech Tree Place regeneration programme was sent out from the Regeneration Team.

Sutton Town Centre Masterplan Delivery

H&M opened in the old BHS unit on 28th March.

Sports Direct have purchased Times Square and are planning to bring their associated brands to units in the centre.

The council has purchased the RBS building at Elm Grove to use as a regeneration hub alongside other uses.

Innovative plans are being developed by the council for space it owns in the town centre including for new uses for the space above H&M and for the old Chicago’s nightclub.

There are also lots of private development proposals for town centre sites including St Nicholas House and the land to the rear of Times Square. Cllr Bartolucci & myself have pushed back with developers to demand better quality proposals. In respect of the Times Square proposal, developers wanted to develop to 17 storeys – far in excess of the heights set out in the local plan. They claimed that this was the only way they could deliver the 35% minimum affordable housing required. It was not an attractive design. As a result of our refusal to accept this poor quality development the owners have given up and sold the site to a housing association, so hopefully we will see a better quality proposal including a significant amount of affordable housing, which is what is really required.

London Cancer Hub

A tender is out for a development partner for the site.

Baroness Blackwood, standing in for Health Minister Matt Hancock, attended St Helier Hospital on Monday 25th March to celebrate the refurbishment works. The councils new chief executive Helen Bailey and I attended to express support for further investment in the local NHS estate and to outline the plans for the London Cancer Hub.

Revenues and Benefits (Cllr Bartolucci is Lead Member)

Cllr Bartolucci attended a Partner Lunch where the Revs & Bens Team successfully retained its Customer Service Excellence accreditation. The Assessor identified ten areas of good practice throughout his visit which is an increase on the five he identified last year.

Sutton Housing Partnership

Cllr Bartolucci and I continue to have regular briefings with the SHP CEO and attend the Strategic Fire Safety Briefings.

Other

I attended an all-day Housing Conference in London arranged by London Councils and was a member of the panel for a Q&A in one of the sessions.

Cllr Trish Fivey and I attended the launch of the Women Mean Business Awards.

I have been liaising with planning officers alongside the ward councillors in respect of key developments for the Rosehill School and Victoria House. I am very unhappy with the poor quality design the Department for Education have put forward for the Rosehill School, especially considering the necessity of locating it within the park. Planning officers agree and will be pushing for a design that is far more sympathetic to its setting.

I attended a Housing Roundtable at the House of Commons on behalf of Sutton to share good practice in housing delivery with James Brokenshire, Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

March 29, 2019 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Information | Leave a comment

Council Budget debate 2019

Another year, another budget debate with the Conservative opposition criticising the budget but failing to offer any alternative of their own. But as we have seen with Brexit, the Tories seem generally to lack the vision to see the need for a Plan B.

Cllr Garratt appeared to have been given the role of opposition budget spokesperson, but in his fifteen minute response to the financial statements under debate, somehow managed to avoid talking about the budget almost entirely. Instead he used the time to rehash complaints about bin collection and street cleaning, but again, without any answers to the issues.

The doom and gloom of trying to balance a budget with diminishing resources was given a period of light relief as we saw Independent Councillor Nick Mattey launch his stand up career. The feedback issues with the main microphone system gave Cllr Mattey the opportunity to take centre stage to deliver his budget speech. His contrived ranting expounded a series of conspiracy theories that so escalated into the realms of the absurd that ten minutes in and the chamber was in tears of laughter. Even the Tory benches had its members’ shoulders shaking with merriment and the application of tissues to watering eyes. We were even treated to the rare sight of Cllr Pascoe cracking a smile – something I have not witnessed in my eight years of knowing her.

The Nick Mattey show ended and it was back to business with Cllr Mo Saqib bringing the debate to its conclusion with a throwback to the Conservatives about their Government’s responsibility for the many ills local government was facing. Sadly, having politely sat through many speeches of criticism from their members, once the Lib Dems passed anything similar their way, the Tory benches erupted with outrage, barracking, shouting and harassing Cllr Saqib so his comments were drowned out. This playground behaviour had to be twice called out by the Mayor as he asked the opposition members to do the courtesy of allowing Cllr Saqib his five minutes to speak uninterrupted.

Unfortunately time ran out before everyone who wanted to speak could do so, including me. Not wanting the work put into a speech to go to waste I publish it here:

BACK TO THE 80s
Let’s be clear – we are raising council tax. And we are raising it by the maximum amount we can – just under 5%.
That is not going to be popular with residents, it is a gift to the opposition for them to attack us. And we are all residents – so we too will all have to pay extra council tax.
So why on earth are we putting it up?

To try to put it simply: councils get funding for delivering services in three ways: central Government funding, business rates and council tax.
Since 2010 the government has continually reduced the amount it gives to councils, whilst at the same time asking us to deliver more services.
In addition we have a growing population of older people and children with complex needs requiring specialist support, all of which is very expensive.
So with less funding from government, the only way to keep up with demand is to increase council tax.
It is in effect a government stealth tax. The government takes money off you through general taxation, but by not passing it on to councils, they know we will have to raise council tax. But for that you will blame the councils, not the government.
Clever that!

The Conservatives over there like to try to divert the blame from their inept government and say we are wasting money, and not managing things well.
Well they are on the Audit Committee. Maybe they should read their papers. Year after year our external auditors state that this council manages its finances well and offers good value for money.
And the boroughs that are in a mess currently, tend to be Tory ones.

In contrast what has happened over the past few years, let’s call them the austerity years, is that here in Sutton we have done everything we can to avoid passing on too much of the pain.
We have squeezed and scrimped and managed to close a budget gap of £83 million over the last eight years, that is more than half of our total budget in 2010.
But despite all this, government cuts mean we still have a further £22 million to find just to continue limping on, so we need to raise council tax.
The opposition will condemn us for this, but what will the borough look like if we don’t?

Well we would be closing libraries and childrens’ centres, stopping meals on wheels. Only the most desperate cases will receive social care support. Our roads and streets will fall into disrepair, unmaintained and dirty. Our parks will be scruffy and unattractive.
It will be a case of back to the eighties. Because that is exactly what the borough looked like back then, after years of Conservative control. By the mid-eighties Sutton had a reputation as a run-down borough.
It was a deliberate neglect of the borough that was the quid pro quo for keeping taxes low under Conservative policy. A policy that led to the Lib Dems eventually taking control, and retaining it for over 30 years.
We got elected on the back of a promise to improve the borough, and with the honesty that we would raise council taxes to pay for those improvements. Not only did we deliver on our promises, but we took Sutton and made it one of the best places to live, work and raise a family.
We need more honesty that low taxes mean you don’t get quality services.
If residents are happy to go back to the poor state the borough was in under Tory rule in return for low taxes then they have that choice. But that is not what I am hearing. Residents have got used to living in a well-maintained borough and don’t like to see it slip one bit.

Claims that the conservatives would manage the council better is a joke. The reason that councils are underfunded is due to the enormous balls-up the Conservatives are making of running the country.
There are too many examples of Conservative incompetency: Boris’ garden bridge, Crossrail, that ferry contract, Graylings’ Virgin trains deal, Universal Credit, the housing crisis…..
Is that really the example they want us to follow?

Whilst the Conservatives are fighting for who will be next up the greasy leadership pole, the economy is paralysed with uncertainty. Billions have been wasted on this Brexit clusterbomb, billions which could have been spent on our NHS, on Policing, and on local government services.

Yet they sit there happily supporting their government’s self-imposed austerity, self-imposed economic wrecking-ball, self-imposed self-implosion.

On that track record, I wouldn’t let a Conservative near a piggy bank, never mind a council budget.

 

 

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Supporting Marie Curie

I was pleased to support Marie Curie by giving a couple of hours of my time to help raise funds through their Great Daffodil Appeal.

At the end of my session giving out daffodil pins in the Sutton Morrisons store my bucket was nicely heavy.

Marie Curie is a charitable organisation that provides care and support through terminal illness.

For free confidential support and practical information about terminal illness call their number 0800 090 2309.

To donate look out for collectors in your area throughout March – you can’t miss them in their yellow tabards. Or you can text DAFF to 78866 to give £5.

 

Be sure to wear your daffodil and show your support.

 

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

January 2019 Council Meeting Part 2

Tories fail to support Lib Dem motion to end schools and SEND underfunding

Parties unite on Conservative call to promote Hindu and Buddhist new year

After a short adjournment of the meeting to allow the crowds there for the Parking Strategy to disperse, the business of the council recommenced.

Lib Dems call for fair funding for Sutton’s schools

Cllr Jenny Batt, Vice-chair of the People Committee, had set out a motion condemning the underfunding of schools and pupils with Special Educational Needs as a result of the Government’s new schools funding formula. It had been expected that this was a motion the Conservative and Independent councillors would willingly support.

Tory Leader in public row with officers

However before the debate could get underway we were treated to the spectacle of the Tory Leader, Tim Crowley, publicly arguing with the Council’s Monitoring Officer over an amendment they had submitted that had been disallowed. This was clearly the continuation of an argument that had taken place earlier as the result of the Conservative Leader’s refusal to accept the Monitoring Officer’s ruling.

The Monitoring Officer calmly referred to the Council’s Constitution, to remind Cllrs Crowley that an amendment cannot be accepted if rather than adding to a motion, it seeks to negate it. She reiterated her advice that the purpose of debates at council were to argue areas of disagreement which then could be resolved between the parties if acceptable. Cllr Crowley continued to push, pointing out that their area of disagreement was a point of fact, which the officer again highlighted could be resolved in the debate, but not via an amendment that negated the whole motion.

The Conservative Leader’s response to not getting his way was petulant, advising the Mayor that his group would therefore not be participating in the debate.

Finally, to the Schools Funding debate

Cllr Batt proposed the motion explaining how, like boroughs across the UK, Sutton was seeing increasing numbers of students, including students with severe or complex disabilities requiring significant extra support, and yet Government spending per pupil was now lower than it was in 2010. Cllr Ed Joyce, previously a teacher in a Sutton secondary school, explained the toll this underfunding was taking on teachers, with many leaving the profession, and recruitment at an all time low. We heard how teachers unions were striking in protest at the impacts of the new formula, which would hinder their ability to deliver the excellent education all students deserve.

In response Cllr Neil Garratt broke ranks and sought to copy his recent backer, Nick Mattey, by using diversionary tactics. He chose to talk about school buildings and planning, rather than schools funding, repeating well-rehearsed claims that building was delayed due to prioritising the Belmont site over Rosehill. This was in deliberate denial of the planning principles applicable to MOL land that meant this was the only way the council could have proceeded. Had we followed the Tories’ preferred option of delivering Rosehill first, we would have faced the embarrassment of the planning application being refused, along with a significant delay to getting any school built. Cllr Mattey’s case for the Belmont school being too small for purpose was also somewhat trite given the school build is almost complete and the Harris Academy preparing to move in later this year.

In her response to the debate Cllr Jenny Batt saw off Cllr Garratt’s accusations of wasting money on the new school build by highlighting that the funding was managed by the Department for Education, not the council. Further embarrassment ensued for the Tories as they failed to support the condemnation of underfunding of the borough’s schools and abstained from the vote, despite their own MP Paul Scully having signed a letter alongside other MPs calling on the Secretary of State for Education to recognise the crisis in High Needs Funding for children with SEND.

Councillor Nandha’s motion brings religious harmony

After an acrimonious meeting, Conservative Councillor Param Nandha managed to achieve a harmonious conclusion to the meeting with his motion asking the council to recognise the Hindu/Singala New Year that falls on April 14th.

A minor amendment to the motion adding a commitment to help promote key festivals of the other main religions had been amicably agreed between Cllrs Dombey and Nandha prior to the meeting.

However even this short debate was not without its bizarre turn.

Independent Councillor Nick Mattey had clearly not seen the agreed amendment set out on the table before him. As a result the leader of the Sutton Independent Group stood up to make the same point about extending the recognition to other religious groups.

However the religions Cllr Mattey specifically cited were Druidism and Satanism.

There were stunned looks of disbelief from all sides of the room as this proposal dropped like a stone.

Like guests tactfully ignoring the antics of an embarrassing relative at a family celebration, the motion was unanimously agreed without further reference to Cllr Mattey’s contribution.

 

 

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Committee Meeting | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chair’s update on the work of the Housing, Economy & Business Committee

Meeting 29th January 2019 key items of business:

  • Housing Rents and Related Charges 2019/20 Annual council housing rent setting report. 1% rent reduction set by government so no local discretion currently. Have discretion over other HRA items which were generally increased in line with inflation. Recommendations agreed
  • Performance management of the Roundshaw estate by Metropolitan Thames Valley. Concerns were raised about the housing association’s responsiveness to resident concerns and support for Resident Associations.
  • Delivery of phase 2 of the HRA new build programme Positive news of grant of 6.5m from London Mayor to deliver 81 more council homes. Recommendations agreed
  • Council Tax Empty Dwelling Discounts Removal of empty dwellings discount and increased the council tax payable on empty sites up to the maximum amount (premium 100% after 2 years, 200% after 5 years, 300% after 10 years) to deter landowners sitting on empty properties so they are released for people to live in. Recommendations agreed
  • Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2019/20 Agreed to adjust the income banding in line with inflationary increases.
  • Discretionary Business Rate Relief scheme 2019/20 and 2020/21 Local small business relief scheme proposed for final two years of govt funded local discount scheme due to rates revaluation. Also detailed a new small retailer relief scheme announced by Govt. Recommendations agreed

Business for next meeting on 19th March 2019

  • Sutton Town Centre Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan
  • Carshalton Village Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan
  • Housing Revenue Account 30 year Business Plan annual update
  • Council/Sutton Housing Partnership Management Agreement review
  • SHP Annual Delivery Plan
  • Review of Housing Allocations Policy

Other Business outside of formal meetings

Sutton Link

Awaiting analysis of results of consultation. Initial information shows strong support for the Tram over Rapid Bus Transport and a preference for an on-road route.

SDEN – Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Ltd

All but a short length of pipework now laid including over the railway bridge gantry. SDEN is currently responsible for supplying energy to 81 Felnex properties (New Mill Quarter) from a temporary energy centre onsite until the connection is made to take landfill gas via landfill gas turbines, and then from the ERF once fully operational.

Shrubs and trees that had to be removed from a stretch of the land behind Hackbridge station to lay the pipework in Beddington Farmlands are now being replaced with new trees.

It has been confirmed that there is agreement with Clarion Homes to supply around 460 homes at the Lavenders in Hackbridge.

Employment and Skills Board

Sutton Women Mean Business projects in the week of International Women’s Day  Successful Sutton the town centre BID has taken on part of the Women Mean Business project and is hosting an awards ceremony to celebrate successful Sutton Women. There will be a launch event on Friday 8th March and the awards ceremony will take place on 26th September.

There are also School Speed Networking Sessions in March organised by the council and the Girls Learning Trust covering Carshalton Girls, Wallington Girls and Nonsuch schools. This will involve the students getting the opportunity to meet with 30 female ambassadors and quiz them. These women cover police, fire, nursing, management, small business, recruitment, architecture, engineering, voluntary sector, housing and local government. Some are ex-pupils.

In April will also be a Women Mean Business Library Exhibition of 100 Sutton Women – the WMB Ambassadors, and a series of WMB Business Growth workshops (all delivered by local business women).

Next meeting of the Board is Monday 11th March 9.30am – 11.30am.

Beddington Programme

HGV restrictions through Beddington Village are expected to be installed by the end of March. Work continues on improvements to the highway and footpaths and plans continue for a dedicated cycle lane along Beddington Lane.

Sutton Living Ltd

The company is seeking to appoint a design and build contractor to deliver the Wallington Public Hall site.

The company also received permission from the Sutton Shareholdings Board to set up a subsidiary Design and Build development co. so that it can reclaim VAT and thereby reduce costs.

Strategic Planning

The Sutton Local Plan has been shortlisted for the Royal Town Planning Institute’s ‘Excellence in Plan Making Practice Award’ and the Council’s Strategic Planning Team has been shortlisted for the Royal Town Planning Institute’s ‘Local Authority Planning Team of the Year’. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 24th April.

The Strategic Team are also making representations on the Mayor’s London Plan on behalf of Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Sutton contesting the Mayor’s calculations on small site development delivery capacity, amongst other matters.

Following a successful referendum vote the Hackbridge and Beddington Corner Neighbourhood Plan has been officially adopted as planning policy.

Council housing new build

We officially handed over the keys to tenants for the first of the new build council homes at Fellowes Road.

The Budget report notes a slight delay to the delivery of the other two sites, Richmond Green and Ludlow Lodge. Both were expected to be completed in February but in both cases inclement weather has delayed works. At Richmond Green there was also an issue of non-performance by SES Water. Richmond Green is now expected to be completed by May. With Ludlow Lodge the expected completion is now June and is also later than anticipated due to the decision to install a sprinkler system in light of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Ward councillors are being briefed on new proposals for more council housing on sites in their area in light of the £6.5m funding secured from the London Mayor. We hope to deliver a further 81 new homes with this funding, matched with right to buy receipts and HRA borrowing.

Regeneration

HEB members visited a Catalyst Housing Association regeneration scheme in Havelock.

Consultation with residents is ongoing about potential regeneration schemes at Elm Grove in Sutton Central and Beech Tree Place in Sutton West. The ward councillors are briefed and involved in the process. Elm Grove is more progressed and viability work is now underway using the feedback from residents on needs and preferences.

Work is being done looking into building housing on garage sites at Alexandra Gardens in Clockhouse. Ward councillors have been briefed.

Ward councillors and officers are also liaising with Benhill residents as their area has been identified in the Local Plan as a potential regeneration site.

Other

The Leader and I met a delegation of the G15 (12 biggest Housing Associations) to discuss their official ‘Offer to Local Authorities’ to collaborate on affordable housing delivery and better ways of working together. I used the opportunity to raise the poor responsiveness to residents of A2Dominion and officers raised issues with Metropolitan Thames Valley. We then gave the delegates a quick visit to see our new council housing and they were impressed by the quality and design.

I have attended meetings at London Councils as Lib Dem Housing and Planning Lead and the London Councils Planning Awards event.

I have continued my work at the LGA on the Grenfell Task & Finish Group and did the welcome on behalf of the LGA at a London event to share learning from the Grenfell Tower fire across sectors.

I attended a visit with the Leader and Cllr James to the Wallington CAB office to understand the impacts of Government transferring funding for Universal Credit support from the council to the CAB.

I attended the Harris Academy Topping Out ceremony with Ruth, Marian and Jenny to celebrate progress with the new build school on the Belmont site.

I attended a South London Partnership workshop on Visualising Good Growth.

I have regular meetings with the MD of Sutton Housing Partnership and the chair and Vice chair of SFTRA to review performance of the ALMO and sit on the regular Strategic Fire Safety meetings.

Along with Cllr Bartolucci, vice chair of HEB, I met with Encompass management to discuss current housing placement pressures and waiting list figures.

 

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Information | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Conservative Parking Strategy Motion seeks to undermine consultation process

The Conservative motion presented to last night’s council meeting was held to a background of a huge attendance of residents concerned about parking proposals being made for their area, thanks to Sandra Ackland’s facebook page, Controlled Parking Residents’ Forum.

Much of the concern had been whipped up by the Conservatives making false claims about non-responses being taken as assent, and misleading people about the consultation process. There was also a contingent of Labour activists keen to exercise their aggressive approach to political debate.

Setting the record straight

Cllr Manuel Abellan, the lead member on this issue, bravely addressed a hostile crowd to set the record straight and explain that these were not the final proposals and officers were still working through the feedback from the consultation.

What the Conservative opposition, led by Cllr Tony Shields, were demanding in their motion, was the scrapping of the consultation before any of the resident feedback had been analysed and the proposals amended based on that feedback. Instead they wanted a repeat of the 18 month consultation, and for it to be on their own ad hoc parking scheme plans, not based on the resident feedback.

This demonstrates their complete failure to understand how consultation works. We asked residents what the parking problems were in their area, if any; responded with some draft proposals seeking residents’ views, and the next stage is to look at the resident feedback and adapt or scrap the proposals accordingly. The proposals are not a blanket scheme, but on a road by road basis whilst considering the wider context.

Conservatives want us to consult residents but not to bother looking at what they have to say

Whilst it is accepted that lots of people don’t like some of the proposals for their area, that is the point of the consultation – to see what will work and what won’t. The Conservative’s motion asks us to ignore any analysis of resident feedback and just scrap the whole thing. But not everyone is against the proposals.

Whilst there is a vocal number of residents who don’t want to see parking restrictions introduced in their roads, there are others that do want it, as it is the only way they can be sure of being able to park in their own road given the pressures of commuter parking. Cllr Jean Crossby spoke clearly at the meeting of how many of her residents were willing to accept the inconvenience of parking controls if it stopped staff and visitors to St Helier Hospital blocking up their streets and driveways.

Seeking resident-led solutions

The current stage of the Parking consultation is to review the feedback from residents on a road by road basis and then adapt the proposals accordingly. Many residents have good, alternative proposals. Others explain how the specific issues in their road make the proposals unworkable. Others are keen for the proposals to be implemented. This is all valuable on-the-ground intelligence from people who understand their area and the issues. This information will help officers develop a tailored and workable scheme. But to get that feedback the council had to go out with some initial proposals, no matter how potentially unpopular.

How resident feedback shaped planning policies

We had a similar situation with the Local Plan consultation. With planning policies there are a number of matters that have to be considered and consulted on, some of which were highly controversial, like the need for Traveller sites. This particular issue caused outrage and some difficult meetings just like last night’s.

However, it prompted unprecedented resident feedback on the Local Plan and provided a solid body of evidence that allowed us to make the case to the Planning Inspector that we could not provide new sites but should expand the existing Traveller site.

This demonstrates how the resident feedback changed the proposed policy to one that was more acceptable, but still addressed the issue.

I am hopeful that the feedback from the current Parking Consultation will result in a similar, resident-led solution to local issues.

Lib Dems don’t shirk the tricky issues

As Cllr Abellan said at the council meeting, we know we will not be able to solve the parking problems whilst there are more cars than there are parking spaces in the borough. What the policy seeks to do is to tip the balance more in favour of residents so they get priority parking in their own roads.

There are few easy solutions to the problems we face, but Liberal Democrats do not believe in shirking the issue and instead will talk honestly to residents about the issues, and the options for dealing with them.

At the council meeting Cllr Abellan was willing to stand up and take on a difficult issue in the face of heckling and even personal attacks from some opposition members. Cllr Shields’ ‘joke’ about putting Cllr Abellan on suicide watch was beneath contempt and one he was rightly made to apologise for.

Fortunately some residents in attendance expressed their gratitude to Cllr Abellan afterwards for clarifying the situation. Others had been worried that the proposals would be scrapped because they wanted them in their road.

The key message to residents where proposals have been made is to get in touch with your ward councillors to discuss your views so they can help you shape the revised proposals for your area.

January 29, 2019 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Information | , , , | 29 Comments

Wallington South Councillors’ December Update

Christmas is upon us – where did the year go?

Before we find ourselves welcoming in 2019 it is time for the latest update from your ward councillors.

WARD NEWS

 

Elles House Crossing

In response to requests by residents your ward councillors have been working on getting a safer crossing point from Elles House across Shotfield . We are pleased that the council has now implemented a scheme to make it easier for residents with mobility issues cross the road at this point.

Leaf bags

Under the new contract with Veolia the leaves in tree-lined roads will have two special leaf-clearing visits over a ten-week period once most of the leaves have fallen. The leaf clearing was initiated in November so local streets should have had their first round of sweeping.

Leaf bags can also be provided to residents or groups who wish to clear leaves themselves from the pavement and public areas in their area. You will need to arrange for Veolia to collect the full bags. To receive the bags and arrange collection please call the council’s contact centre on 020 8770 5000 and ask for Neighbourhood

Services. Alternatively you can email Neighbourhoodservices@Sutton.gov.uk.

Park Hill Road replacement trees

Residents in Park Hill Road were upset to learn that a number of trees in their road were diseased and had to be felled. Unfortunately with the relentless cuts to local government funding the council is no longer able to afford to automatically replace felled trees. However Sutton Council does provide a small amount of capital funding to Local Committees for local residents to use for local schemes. At the request of residents we successfully bid for funding to replace the trees in Park Hill Road and are pleased that they have now been replaced by new ones.

Christmas Waste Collections

Recycling and waste collections will change during the weeks commencing 24 December 2018, 31 December 2018 and 7 January 2019. Please note collection changes for Wallington below:

Usual Collection Day Revised collection Day
Tuesday 25 December 201 Thursday 27 December 2018 2 days later
Saturday 29 December 2018 Sunday 30 December 2018 1 day later
Monday 31 December 2018 Wednesday 2 January 2019 2 days later 
Tuesday 1 January 2019 Thursday 3 January 2019 2 days later 
Saturday 5 January 2019 Sunday 6 January 2019 1 day later
Monday 7 January 2019 Tuesday 8 January 2019 1 day later
Tuesday 8 January 2019 Wednesday 9 January 2019 1 day later
Saturday 12 January 2019 Sunday 13 January 2019  1 day later

Collections return to normal from Monday 14 January 2019.

 

REAL CHRISTMAS TREE COLLECTIONS

Drop Off Points for trees
For Christmas 2018, Christmas tree drop off points are being piloted in the borough. This will provide more options for residents to dispose of their real Christmas tree.
From Saturday 5 January to Sunday 13 January, there will be three locations across the borough where you can drop off your real Christmas tree to be recycled.

The sites will be open from 9:30am-3:30pm:

  • The Mount, Clockhouse – on the green opposite the Jack & Jill pub, CR5 2QY
  • Roundshaw Park, Lindbergh Road, SM6 9HB
  • Kimpton Refuse and Recycling Centre, Kimpton Park Way, SM3 9QH

All decorations and tree pots must be removed prior to disposal.

Kerbside collections

From Monday 14 January to Saturday 26 January 2019, real Christmas trees will be collected free from houses on the standard kerbside collection service. All decorations and tree pots must be removed.  Trees will need to be placed out for collection by 6am on the day of the brown wheelie bin collection.

 

Assisted bin collections

There appear to be ongoing issues with assisted collections not being carried out by the Veolia bin crews. If you are meant to have an assisted collection but it is not being done on a reliable basis then please get in touch with us so we can make sure Veolia are aware and try to get the problem addressed.

Wallington Foodbank

The Foodbank is now open in St Michael and All Angels church in Milton Road, Wallington. Organised by the Roundshaw Community Network with funding from Metropolitan Housing and a grant from the Sutton Council  Beddington & Wallington Local Committee.

All the Foodbanks in Sutton work on a voucher referral system issued by local agencies. For more information visit the website.

Wallington Christmas Festival brought local cheer

The tree is up and it’s a whopper! The annual celebrations centred around the switching on of the festive lights in Wallington took place on Friday 30th November heralding the start of Christmas festivities.

Steve, Jayne and Muhammad were pleased to have contributed to the event in various ways: Steve putting up the tree and decorations, Muhammad stewarding , Jayne manning the Grotto as an Elf and all helping with the planning and organisation.

The Festival is brought to you by local residents and businesses  forming the voluntary group AllinWallington. Special thanks to Carpenters & Co for their generous sponsorship, Sutton Council for Neighbourhood Grant funding, Your Move for the fabulous tree. The Woodcote Flying Club are always generous with their contribution in terms of a meeting venue and food and drink stall, Sutton College organised the indoor market at the Old Town Hall and Ginger Frog lent us Phil Deguara as our excellent MC.

Small Dog Area Petition

After an horrific attack by a large dog on her small Jackapoo, Brody that resulted in immediate euthanasia by the vet, local resident  Gaye Fisher is calling for better protection for small dogs. Gaye is working with MPs to see legislation changed to make such attacks a criminal offence. After learning of an increasing number of attacks locally Gaye also wants to see a designated area for small dogs in Beddington Park where owners can feel able to let their small dogs run off the leash safely. There is an online petition to demonstrate your support for this scheme.

 

PLANNING NEWS

 

DM2018/01282 40 Wallington Square Wallington SM6 8RG Permission has been granted for change of use of the cab office to become an ice cream parlour.

DM2018/01097 11 Hall Road Wallington SM6 0RT Change of Use from a Care Home to a House in Multiple Occupation  Refused

New Applications:

DM2018/01835 25-27 Beddington Gardens And 18 Holmwood Gardens Wallington SM6 0JG                     Outline planning application to determine access, layout and scale for the demolition of existing houses and the erection of a part 4 storey building and basement comprising a total of thirty seven self-contained flats, with associated hard and soft landscaping, refuse and cycle storage and thirty nine off street parking spaces

DM2018/01976 34 Heathdene Road Wallington SM6 0TB Demolition of existing dwelling and the erection of a two storey building with roof accommodation comprising 7 self-contained flats with 5 parking spaces, cycle store, re-cycling store, terraces leading to the rear garden and new front boundary wall and railings. Please note that the current elderly owners of this property intend to still be residing in this property in one of the new flats.

 

BEDDINGTON AND WALLINGTON LOCAL COMMITTEE NEWS

The Beddington & Wallington Local Committee took place on 30th October at Wallington Boys Grammar School. Items of interest to our ward were:

Implementation of outstanding Double Yellow Lines

Officers confirmed that outstanding schemes for Cranley Gardens, Stanley Gardens and Mulberry Mews  were going ahead and we expect to see them implemented soon.

Capital funding for local schemes

Projects approved for funding included new gates for the rear terrace area of the old town hall to enable performances to take place; replacement trees for Woodcote Green and Park Hill Road and a pedestrian improvement scheme for Woodcote Road.

The next meeting of the Beddington & Wallington Local Committee will be on 22nd January at 7pm at the Croygas Sports Club, 48 Mollinson Drive.

 

BOROUGH NEWS

 

Tramlink Consultation

Transport for London (TfL) are consulting on options for a new transport link for Sutton. This is your chance to have your say on whether you want to see a Tramlink connecting to Morden or Wimbledon or the alternative of a Rapid Bus Transit. Details of the routes and options are available on the consultation site: tfl.gov.uk/sutton-link. Consultation runs until 6th January.

 

Air Quality Action Plan Consultation

The council is seeking resident input into its draft Air Quality Action Plan.  You can read the plan and give your views here: https://sutton.citizenspace.com/environment/draft-air-quality-action-plan-consultation. The consultation runs until 6th February.

 

So that is it from us for now. We wish you all a lovely Christmas and happy New Year.

 

Jayne, Steve and Muhammad

 

 

 

 

December 25, 2018 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heartfelt stories from councillors for Anti-Bullying Week

The Liberal Democrat Group submitted a motion to Council relating to Anti-bullying Week 2018 promoted by the Anti-Bullying Alliance. It was proposed by Cllr Chris Williams and seconded by Cllr Jenny Batt, the two vice-chairs of the People Committee.

The motion recognised the increasing incidences of bullying, and resolved to be clear that bullying is unacceptable in any form. The motion contained a pledge by Sutton councillors to lead by example in our interactions, for the council to join the Anti-Bullying Alliance and undertake their training programme, and to ensure clear signposting for residents to appropriate support.

We were pleased that the motion achieved cross-party support.

Unfortunately time constraints meant that not all the speeches could be heard. Two of my colleagues had prepared speeches based on their personal experiences that they still wanted to share to show others that they are not alone:

Councillor Nali Patel

Dear Mr Mayor, please forgive me for not standing whilst I speak on the motion against bullying.
Everyone needs power and control in their lives.
However, people who bully others use their power in an unhealthy way to hurt someone else.
They cross other peoples’ emotional and physical boundaries, often with devastating effect.
Being disabled, I would like to talk about an incident to show how bullying has affected me emotionally.
I usually go to pay at the health counter in the Boots because it has easy access and also the counter is low enough for me to reach.
On one occasion, there were two queues. I joined one of them. We had to go in turn as only one counter was open. When my turn came I drove my scooter closer and placed my things on the counter.
All of a sudden I heard very abusive words from a lady with her baby. She touched my disability scooter and said I was pretending to be disabled. However much I tried to explain she turned deaf ears. The scene she created mesmerised and horrified me.
Eventually the manager came out and took the lady to another counter (without saying anything to me)
This left me feeling unwanted and useless. This type of bullying leaves a permanent mark.
Incidents, like this, are repeated on public transport and in many other places. I belong to British Polio Fellowship and such painful, bullying incidents are always discussed.
I fail to understand why, because we are disabled, it is thought OK to hurt us; to kick us when we are already down; to leave us on the verge of breaking down. We feel alone, with no one there to stand up for us, or to save us from the bullies.
Even in modern, enlightened Britain, the world is still for people who are physically fit. And the phrase, coined in the late nineteenth century, seems to me still to hold true today. It is “survival of the fittest.”

***

Councillor Muhammad Sadiq

Bullying – A problem which has been around globally for many, many years.
When speaking of bullying, we automatically think of the stereotypical scenario where a school kid is being pushed around in the playground by some ‘bullies.’
A recent poll found that almost half of children were worried about returning to school after the holidays because of bullying. These children are often the ones who suffer in silence because they are worried of the repercussions if they tell someone they are being bullied.
It is a common concept that people grow out of bullying and the term is often mistakenly linked to children and schools. A sad reality is that bullying is not confined to the playground.
A recent study has shown that work place bullying is increasing and many are still too afraid to speak about it.
A significant increase in racist bullying both verbal and physical has been reported since the Brexit referendum-yet another sad consequence of this vote.
This also links to another method of bullying on the rise: Cyber Bullying. A National Bullying Survey found that a staggering 42% of young people have felt unsafe online. Cyber bullying can occur 24 hours a day, 7 days a week putting no end to the victims’ misery, whether it is a young child or adult.
Bullying can affect a person’s well-being, academic or work place progress and the most common, a person’s mental health. I am sure we have all come across one too many articles of suicide due to bullying. These people either suffer in silence or not enough is done to hear their voice and concerns. No person, young or old, deserves to suffer any form of bullying.
Despite all the laws and procedures in place to deal with bullying, it is unfortunate that bullying has become normalised. We must all stand in unity, and do everything in our power to stamp down on bullying.

 

November 27, 2018 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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