Diary of a Sutton Councillor

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.

 

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

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

HEB meeting held on Tuesday 19th June 2018

Key items of business:

  • Council Tax Reduction Scheme Annual Review 17/18 –  No changes to scheme required but set up Task & Finish Group to consider amendments to care leavers support and impact of inflation. Agreed.
  • Beddington Village Conservation Area Appraisal – Community drafted appraisal to be used as a material planning consideration – Agreed by majority vote. Independant voted against, all three Conservatives abstained.
  • Building a Sustainable Sutton – Local Plan Technical Guidance Note – approval of guidance on the Carbon Offset Fund, Biodiversity Calculator and Greenspace Factor – Agreed
  • Rents for Housing Revenue Account New Build Properties – proposal to set rents for new build council housing at up to 65% of market rent – Agreed
  • Set up of Task & Finish Group to consider reducing Empty Property Exemptions for council tax – for decision at September HEB

Other business since previous meeting

 

Tram extension to Sutton

There was a joint presentation by Merton & Sutton to the Mayor’s Good Growth Board on 28th February where the Deputy Mayor for Transport confirmed backing of the Sutton Tram extension.

 

Mayor’s Draft London Plan and changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

Both of these plans set much higher targets for housing delivery than we included in our Local Plan. We think the proposed targets are based on flawed calculations and are undeliverable. Robust responses have been submitted to both: Draft London Plan  NPPF

 

Employment and Skills Board Meeting on 11th June 2018

Agenda included:

  • An update on the Disability Confident Event on 19th June delivered by DWP & LBS
  • An update on the work of the Early Help Board
  • An update on the Big Bang Festival of Science on 9th – 14th July
  • Opportunity for joint bid to Young Londoners Fund
  • Feedback on South London Partnership Skills Strategy work
  • Regular Partners Updates

 

SHP

I have continued attending regular Fire Safety Meetings of SHP, the Council and the Fire Brigade following the Grenfell Fire.

I also met with SFTRA chair and vice-chair  for quarterly discussions.

 

Council housing new build

Work is progressing well at Fellowes Road, Richmond Green and Ludlow Lodge. An unauthorised person gained access to the Ludlow Lodge site and climbed the crane there. The police and council’s project manager were on site whilst the man remained in situ.

Members had visited the site previously and confirm it was secured, but following this incident the council will be making an inquiry into the security of the site.

 

Regeneration

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.

 

Other

As Trustee on the Wandle Valley Regional Park board representing the council’s interests I attended board meetings in March and May.

I represented Sutton Council at a Camden-organised Resident Safety Event focussed on the Dame Hackett Review into Building Regulations following the Grenfell Tower fire on 26th March.

Sutton was co-sponsor of the Sutton Business Awards held on 21st June at the Holiday Inn.

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Information | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sutton’s response to the Consultation on the Draft National Planning Policy Framework

10 May 2018

The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP
Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government

Dear Secretary of State,

Consultation on the Draft National Planning Policy Framework

The current focus on addressing the housing crisis is to be welcomed. However many of the policies and ideas put forward will either be ineffective in addressing the crisis, undeliverable or will produce negative consequences.

First there is the focus on delivering units of housing. This is reducing the very human requirement of needing a place to reside down to the basics of simply a place of shelter, a roof over their head. This ignores the social impacts of poor quality housing and overcrowding.

Space standards are allowed to be reduced to squeeze in more units, and place-shaping, infrastructure and community-building are all inconveniences subsumed to the demand for greater housing numbers. The result will be social malaise, poor health both mental and physical, and a reduction in the attractiveness of our towns and cities.

Design appears to have been relegated to an afterthought, only seen as a function to be able to deliver more houses in ever smaller spaces.

People do not want units or boxes, they want quality homes with local schools, accessible transport and access to green and open spaces.

The second failure of the focus on units is that development is encouraged that does not meet the underlying need.

Why are we filling all available space in our towns and cities with accommodation that the vast majority cannot afford?

Developers will require a minimum 65% luxury apartments to subsidise the 35% affordable element. So we are getting yet more units of unaffordable housing that no one wants or needs squeezed in just to deliver a few affordable units that are desperately in demand.

This failure in previous housing delivery policy is now expected to be addressed by removing all sense of character and place in the drive to now provide housing units. Top-down targets imposed on local areas allow for no sensitivity to heritage, character and place, and may end up largely undeliverable as sites are already at a premium.

As ever the Planning System is being wrongly blamed for the crisis, and then held accountable for delivery that is outside of its influence.

The response to policy papers by tweaking the NPPF will not resolve the underlying causes of the housing crisis but will instead erode the quality and offer of our towns and cities making the UK a less attractive place to live, and may result in social tensions and disharmony similar to the previous impacts resulting in ghettos and sink estates that previous flawed attempts to address housing issues created.

We have responded to the questions put, but suggest that the thinking around addressing the housing crisis needs broadening  beyond planning policy.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Jayne McCoy
Chair of the Housing, Economy & Business Committee, London Borough of Sutton

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats, Opinion | , , , | 1 Comment

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

HEB Meeting held on Tuesday 13th February

Key items of business:

  • Local Plan adoption – agreed unanimously. The Plan was fully approved at Full Council
  • Local Development Scheme – programme of ongoing strategic planning work agreed
  • Locally Listed Buildings of Sutton document- excellent catalogue of listed buildings in the borough which we hope to publicise more widely.
  • Brownfield site register – new requirement for a list of sites available for development – taken from Local Plan
  • Economy Watchlatest economic statistics for the borough
  • Discretionary Rate Relief – Pub Scheme extended for another year

 

 Other Business since last meeting

Tram extension to Sutton

Myself, Cllr Whitehead and Cllr Dombey, along with senior officers and the Merton Council Leader met with the London Deputy Mayor for Transport and TfL to discuss progress on delivering the tram extension. TfL were extremely positive about the plans and appeared dedicated to making it happen. Some new options have been proposed to bridge the funding gap with external sources. This was followed up with a joint presentation by Merton & Sutton to the Mayor’s Good Growth Board on 28th February.

 

London Plan

The Mayor’s London Plan is currently out for consultation until 2nd March. It contains new worrying housing targets that are double those in our Local Plan and the Mayor expects these to be delivered on small sites i.e. backgarden land, house conversions and flats in the middle of suburbia. This flies against our Local Plan where we seek to preserve the historic and suburban character of our borough and direct housing to town and district centres, with regeneration providing both additional housing and improved environments for existing residents.

Positive aspects of the Mayor’s Plan are the highlighting of Sutton as an Opportunity Area in light of the London Cancer Hub potential, and inclusion of the Tram extension to Sutton.

More here.

The council has submitted a response to the consultation.

 

Employment and Skills Board Meeting on 5th March 

Agenda included:

  • A talk on the work of the Early Help Board
  • A presentation by Reed in Partnership, the organisation procured by the South London Partnership to deliver the Work and Health Programme (now Better Working Futures)
  • An update on the Sutton for Science strategy and Big Bang Festival of Science activities
  • Regular Partners Updates 

 

SHP

I have continued attending regular Fire Safety Meetings of SHP and the Council following the Grenfell Fire.

HEB Members Cllr Melican and Cllr Emmerson attend SHP board meetings and associated events as the council’s representatives on the SHP Board.

Steve Tucker, previously Interim CE of SHP has now been confirmed to the permanent post of Managing Director of SHP – a posting that has met with widespread approval by tenants, leaseholders, staff and the council as great improvements in approach and service have been noted since Steve took over from the previous CE.

 

Beddington Farmlands

A petition has been raised by the Wandle Forum for enforcement of the planning conditions requiring the restoration of the landfill site at Beddington Farmlands into a country park and wildlife reserve. Cllr Piracha and myself met with Planning and Biodiversity Officers for an update on the situation. It was confirmed that progress has been ongoing with restoring the site and there has been oversight by Planning Enforcement, but there has been no breach and therefore no fault on the council’s part, or Viridors. The only delay to the restoration was due to the Judicial Review brought by the Green Party PPC which meant all work has to be stopped until the JR was concluded.

Officers plan to meet with representatives of the Wandle Forum to explain the situation and talk about the next steps for the restoration.

 

Sutton Living Ltd

A planning application for the Wallington public hall site has been submitted.

Rather than selling the site to a private developer the council is using its new Housing Development Company, Sutton Living Ltd, to build new homes for local people on the site. The plans propose using the hall site and half of the associated car park to deliver 31 flats of mixed sizes in two blocks of three and four storeys with a commercial retail unit fronting Stafford Road.

The development will provide the maximum required number of affordable units, and under the terms of the council’s company all the residential units are required to be marketed to Sutton residents first, with special discretion for care-givers moving in to look after a Sutton resident, or ex-forces personnel. The layout also preserves the access to garages of properties in Onslow Gardens.

Other projects in train are listed in the papers for the last Sutton Shareholdings Board on 6th December.

 

Council housing new build

I took the council leader to view progress with the council house new build at Fellowes Road and Ludlow Lodge. Kind & Co, the build contractors are ahead of schedule so we hope to see people moving in this year.

 

 

SDEN 

I attended a Golden Shovel event with Cllr Whitehead and partners Viridor, Barratts and Eneteq to celebrating getting the first pipes in the ground for the decentralised energy network. We were also able to view the properties being developed by Barratts in Hackbridge on the old Felnex site.

The company is currently billing new residents who have moved into the New Mill Quarter properties. A temporary energy centre is on site to provide energy until the pipes are connected which is expected to be July next year.

 

Economic Development

An investor conference was held on 1st March at the newly refurbished Empire Cinema. This is part of the work to attract quality developers and investors to Sutton to enable us to deliver the best quality environment we can. It also launched the Sutton for Science programme which aims to encourage Sutton residents and young people to take up training opportunities so that they can take advantage of the new employment offer arising from the development of the London Cancer Hub. It is a programme that local schools have been keen to participate in.

Cllr Dombey and I accompanied Vince Cable and Tom Brake on a visit to the ICR for Vince to learn more about the Cancer Hub project, which later appeared on BBC London News.

Other

I attended a Sutton Chamber Business Networking event that featured Paul Scully MP invited to talk about ‘The Future of Sutton’.

I attended another LGA Grenfell Task & Finish Group overseeing the work of the LGA on the response to Grenfell, this time in conjunction with the FAMC and the new London Deputy Mayor for Fire Services.

I joined Cllr Gordon and Cllr Wales on the Sutton Shareholdings Board, a sub-committee of Strategy & Resources which has oversight of the council’s trading companies on 22nd February.

 

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wallington South Councillors’ Autumn Update

When Autumn leaves start to fall… we start to worry about blocked drains and slippery pavements!

But we hope that you all still have the chance to enjoy this mild autumn weather, and maybe visit our beautiful (and award-winning) local parks to appreciate the fall colours and busy wildlife.

It also means that it is time for an update on the work of your ward councillors and news of activities and events in and around Wallington.

Ward News

Goodbye to the Lavender Lights

Sadly the lavender lights along Woodcote Road have come to the end of their life and are beyond repair. The Beddington & Wallington Local Committee, made up of the local ward councillors and community representatives, reviewed the costs of replacing them, but because they are not a standard design they would cost almost double that of traditional festive lights – £73,000 compared with £39,000 over a five year supply contract.

The committee, therefore, decided to replace them with traditional festive lighting which will be put up and taken down each Christmastime along with the Stafford Road lights.

But we are still having a Wallington Switch-on event!

Ric Adams our stalwart community events man wants this year’s event to be bigger and better than ever, so we hope to have more stalls, more food and a return of Santa’s Grotto.

The Christmas festivities will take place on Friday 24th November starting at 5pm with festive live music, local choirs and stalls including children’s activities, rounding off with the lights being switched on at 7pm.

Do come along and join the Wallington community in welcoming in the festive season.

High School Open Days

The local secondary schools Open Days always cause traffic congestion and complaints about inconsiderate parking.

Wallington Girls school alerted local residents to the Open Evening and had made special arrangements with a local business to provide extra parking on the day, and we had arranged additional Parking Enforcement Officers to patrol the area. However, we later discovered that other local schools, Wilsons and Wallington Boys, had also held their Open Evenings on the same day. As a result, there was traffic congestion across the area.

In response, we have asked the Council to encourage the schools to stagger their Open Days to avoid this widespread chaos and to enable the council to use its limited number of Parking Enforcement staff to help deter inconsiderate parking by attendees at these events.

Your help needed to Keep Wallington Tidy

Veolia have taken over the street cleaning contract. Previously residential roads were swept fortnightly, no matter how dirty they got in between times. The new contract requires all streets to be maintained to a set standard, with cleaning to take place as often as is necessary to meet that standard. The standards are set out on the council website here.

There will be a period of learning as Veolia get to know which streets are more prone to littering. We need your help to let Veolia know when our streets fall below the standard. Simply go online and report a street in need of cleaning here.

District centres will continue to be cleaned daily.

Of course, the best way to keep Wallington tidy is for people not to drop litter in the first place!

It will also help to keep Wallington looking spruce if you report overflowing litter or dog bins here. You can also use the Report it function to report blocked drains, especially in areas with excessive leaf fall.

Local Police Safer Neighbourhoods Team call for Community Speedwatch volunteers

Wallington South SNT are currently looking at organising a Volunteer Community Speedwatch for the area. They need a few members of the community who are Coordinators and all others will be Volunteers.

Coordinators will be organising a time and date with a few of the other Volunteers in their area and collect a speed gun from Sutton Police Station and will then go to a location that has been risk assessed by the police.

The group will then spend time watching the cars with the speed camera and noting down the speeding vehicles/their speed/times/vehicle make/model/registration number etc.

The Coordinator will then feedback a list of the offending vehicles to the police and a warning letters system can be used for the drivers of the vehicles which are doing over a certain percentage of the speed limit.

There will be training given by the Police for use of the camera and the process etc.

If this is anything that you feel you might be interested in please email your: Name, Address, a Contact Number and whether you would be interested in being a Coordinator or not to: wallington.snt@met.police.uk

Planning News

Wallington Public Hall site development

The Council is drafting plans for developing the Public Hall site comprising residential units in two blocks with a commercial frontage onto Stafford Road. We know that residents were very fond of the hall and its history, and you can read about the reasons it has had to be closed on Jayne’s blog. Your ward councillors have asked that the new development reflects the Art Deco style of the original hall and have been pleased to see these elements incorporated in the plans. We will keep you updated when plans are formally submitted.

Old BP Garage site Stafford Road

Having successfully seen off the McDonalds Drive-through proposal, construction is now underway of a three and four storey block of flats on this site with ground floor retails at the front.

Garages next to Julian House, Ross Road

The application to build flats in place of Julian House garages was refused by the council’s Planning Committee, however, the developers, A2Dominion have now exercised their right to appeal that decision and it will be reviewed by the independent Planning Service based in Bristol.

Wallington Square

Will it ever be complete? Well it is getting there and current work excavating the land in the middle of the square is for the supports for the new transparent canopy intended to make the square rainproof. It will incorporate lighting. Works are expected to continue here beyond Christmas.

Construction site Alcester Road next to Trinity Church

This is the old Ludlow Lodge site, and although it is in Wallington North not Wallington South, we are rather proud that it is where the council is building its first new council houses for over thirty years.

Local events diary

Thursday 26th October 1pm African and Caribbean Heritage Association AGM

Community Hall, 1st Floor Phoenix Centre, Mollison Drive, Wallington attended by the Sutton Mayor

Friday 27th October 7pm Cancer Research UK Charity Quiz Night

The Woodcote Flying Club are hosting a Charity Quiz Night on behalf of our local Cancer Research UK charity shop. Tickets are £7 per person and all funds raised go to this excellent charity. Call into the Cancer Research UK shop in Wallington town centre to book your place, or get them from the Woodcote Flying Club.

Saturday 11th November 9.30am Poppy Planting Ceremony

The annual Poppy Planting ceremony takes place on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday in front of the Wallington Old Town Hall. Arranged by the local branch of the Royal British Legion.

Sunday 12th November Remembrance Day

Acts of Remembrance at local war memorials are led by churches across the borough with the Civic Act of Remembrance this year taking place at the Manor Park War Memorial 10.45am in Sutton followed by a service in St Nicholas Church.

Our nearest local service will be in Holy Trinity Church, Maldon Road, Wallington at 10.30am followed by a march to Wallington Green War Memorial for wreath laying at 11.45am.

Monday 20th November 7.30pm Beddington Park Lecture Series

Beddington Park Lecture Series presents a free talk on The Tudors and Jacobeans in Beddington Park by John Phillips at St Mary’s Church Centre, Church Road Beddington.  To book call 020 8770 6060 or email: sarah.price@sutton.gov.uk.

Friday 24th November Wallington Festive Lights Switch on Celebration

Starting at 5pm in Wallington Town Centre.

Saturday 25th November 10am – 3pm Wallington Stem Cell Donor Registration event

You may have read about Terry Dawkins. Terry was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and has been told his only chance of survival is to find a matching stem cell donor.

Moved by Terry’s story, some local residents are organising a registration event in Wallington, alongside DKMS, who have registered more than 300,000 people as potential blood stem cell donors in the UK alone.

The event will take place on Saturday 25th November, 10am to 3pm in the meeting room on the first floor of Wallington library and will involve completing a registration form and allowing your mouth to be swabbed. The whole thing taking no more than 15 minutes. To find out if you are eligible as a donor, please visit https://www.dkms.org.uk/en/match4terry.

Terry is currently being treated at St. George’s Hospital, in Tooting.

That is it from us. Don’t forget the clocks fall back on Sunday 29th October this year!

Best wishes,

 

 

Jayne McCoy, Steve Cook & Muhammad Sadiq
Liberal Democrat Councillors for Wallington South

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chair’s Update on work of the Housing, Economy & Business Committee (HEB)

HEB Meeting held on 13th June key items of business:

Review of Planning Pre-application Service We agreed an amendment to the rate of charges to introduce an additional category to reduce the fees for smaller developments (1-4 units), formalised notification of councillors of major pre-app proposals, and asked officers to investigate whether we could publish the pre-app advice letter as part of the report to committee as standard practice.

Draft Character Appraisal of the Burton Estates Area of Special Local Character (ASLC) (produced by the Belmont & South Cheam Neighbourhood forum) This was agreed and we would encourage other Resident Associations to undertake their own Character Appraisals of ASLCs to strengthen their influence when determining planning applications.

Management of Housing Stock Review This considered whether we continue with Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) as our Arms Length Management Organisation, bring the service in-house, or form a shared service with Kingston. On evidence gathered and external consultants’ report we agreed the option to progress with SHP as an improved ALMO. It was noted that this option could deliver the required savings.

Estate Regeneration Resident Engagement Proposals This set out the principles of engagement and transparency the council will adopt with residents in estates with potential for regeneration. The aim is for residents themselves to shape how their areas could be improved and intensified to make better use of space and provide improved communities and housing. It is noted that decisions to proceed with regeneration can only be made when the viability of proposals incorporating the needs and desires of residents has been assessed and shown to be feasible.

Annual Review of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme No changes proposed whilst new income band scheme beds in as it was only introduced from April 2017.

Discretionary Hardship Relief scheme for businesses re rate review Task & Finish Group set up to propose a scheme. This has met and a consultation has been undertaken recommending relief for small businesses (< £200,000 rateable value) facing increases greater than 12.5% of 100% in first year, 50% relief in second year , with businesses in CR4 getting 100% in both years to reflect the disproportionate increase in rateable value in that area. Final decision will be made in light of the results of the consultation at the 26th September Housing, Economy & Business Committee Meeting.

Ongoing business since last HEB meeting

Local Plan The Independent Examination-in-Public is to be held on 12-15th September 2017.

SDEN The agreement has now been signed with Barratts. Contractors have been procured to commence work delivering the pipes and installing them.

Tramlink Transport for London have allocated funding of £70m from the Mayor’s Growth Fund for the Sutton Tramlink, but this still leaves a significant funding gap. However it very much feels like it is back on the table with TfL keen to find ways to plug the gap either by saving costs or finding alternative funding mechanisms.

Sutton Economic Support Taskgroup (SEST) Quarterly meeting with Council post-14 Education Services, local colleges and training providers, JobCentre plus, and business representatives to discuss employment and training in the borough. Agreed to refresh aims for coming year and focus on engagement with businesses.

Meeting arranged with Children, Families and Education Directorate staff in August to discuss joined-up working across SEST & the Post 14 Progression and Employability Board.

Sutton Town Centre Masterplan Delivery Oversight and work with ward councillors continues in respect of delivery of the STC Masterplan. Includes North Sutton Gateway Scheme and estate regeneration work.

Jayne gave a presentation in July to open an Investor Tour event for investors and businesses expressing an interest in Sutton. Officers also gave presentations on the opportunities and sites in the town centre and at the London Cancer Hub and took them to visit the actual sites.

Open for Business Board Chaired by Cllr Wales this board is under the remit of Opportunity Sutton seeking to support local businesses. Last meeting looked at future of the Pop-up Sutton programme and will be seeking ways to build on its success.

Beddington Programme Consultation now out on various transport improvements along Beddington Lane in respect of the £7m awarded by TfL as a Major Scheme. https://www.opportunitysutton.org/beddington-gets-moving/

Sutton Housing Partnership Since the HEB agreement to continue with SHP as its ALMO in improved form Jayne has continued to meet with officers and SFTRA reps. Recent discussions focussed on governance improvements and oversight of the changes to sheltered housing support.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) Jayne was invited to provide an update on the Town Centre Masterplan at an event to celebrate the successful Sutton Town Centre BID renewal vote.

Work is also ongoing with traders to establish a BID in Worcester Park.

Sutton Living Ltd New plans are being drafted for the first of the company’s developments on the site of the old Wallington Public Hall.

Grenfell Tower fire local implications Jayne has been attending regular Fire Safety Briefings with Sutton Housing Partnership and Sutton Council senior officers and the local London Fire Service team to ensure that all council-owned residential properties in the borough have adequate fire safety measures in place and to respond to the latest advice and information following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Council Housing new build Work has commenced on the first council house new build, previously the Ludlow Lodge site. HEB members and ward councillors attended a ceremonial ground-breaking event at the Ludlow Lodge site and met with the building contractors Kind & Co a smaller construction company who impressed us with their commitment to award-winning build quality and consideration for neighbours.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Committee Meeting, Information | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Sutton Council delivering for you?

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

New build for Fellowes Road

New build for Fellowes Road

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.

Chaucer House

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.

Estate regeneration

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

Dymond House

Dymond House

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.

Elizabeth House

Elizabeth House

June 29, 2016 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

London Resi Conference: Who are we building homes for?

Bedzed_project_1

Yesterday I attended the London Resi Conference where housing developers, investors, land managers, the GLA and other industry professionals gathered to discuss how to deliver housing to address the shortfall of provision in London.

I gained some useful insights into the issues faced and forecasted growth areas.

However the ‘Bright Young Things’ ideas session left me with a heavy heart. We had the usual railing against the planning system and stories of local councillors playing politics because of their ‘nimby’ residents. The proposed solution was to take major planning decisions out of the hands of local authorities and have them all decided by the Mayor’s office. The belief that this would take the politics out of the equation and see speedier resolutions of applications was naive to say the least! The certainty is that there would be less transparency and democracy.

But most of all this debate made me want to shout, ‘Who do you think you are building these homes for?’ Those local people who often object to developments in their area are also the families who would like to be able to afford a larger home, the young adults looking to move out of the family home, or older couples looking to downsize. And often the reason they object is because of the poor offer these developments will make to their area.

We have the simple problem of trying to use a system that relies on the private sector to deliver the housing that is needed in the capital. That housing won’t be provided if there is not a profit to be made on the development. However the type of housing that local people want for their area, together with the investment in the infrastructure necessary to support that development, does not produce the dividends that drive investors. That is why we see the endless pressure to build as densely as possible, and battles over s106 contributions and affordable housing. Indeed one of the bright young things wanted the space standards relaxed so they could build even smaller homes. Are we really proposing to house the next generation in cupboard-sized apartments akin to some of the worst examples seen in Japan? And when those new homes are built, they are unaffordable for local people, so they are sold to better-off commuters who may well spend all day in central London and contribute little to the local economy.

All local councils, local planners and local people want is good quality development that works for their area. Felicie, one of the more progressive thinking Bright Young Things captured it well, suggesting that the offer needs to be quality spaces designed around people and their needs. She talked of flats that would be suitable for families if they were well thought out, and suitably located near the facilities that families require.

A couple of examples of the issues drawn from my area:

A large residential development specially designed for older people was proposed for a site. We thought that it was too large and overbearing for the site, especially compared to what it was replacing, and that there would be objections from the locals. In fact there was widespread support for it because, as lots of residents said, they aspired to live there once they retired. It was an attractive offer.

On the other hand we have a legacy of a large housing development of over 600 properties in a self-contained area in Worcester Park. This development has no inter-relationship with the surrounding buildings or community either physically or in design terms. It has placed considerable strain on the local transport network clogging up a key through route, and created discord and disharmony. This estate and its attendant problems are now a permanent part of the landscape, but the investors will no doubt be long gone having made their money and it is the local council and residents left to deal with the consequences, out of taxpayers’ funds.

To bridge the discordant priorities we need public investment. In Sutton we are showing our willingness to do this by setting up a council-owned housing development company which will allow the local authority to take advantage of preferential borrowing rates to invest in the housing market across all tenures. We will need to work with private partners but our stake will enable us to have more say over design and standards. And for our partners our investment will de-risk projects and provide the wriggle room to be more flexible about affordable housing and densities.

My top tips for developers are to seek early engagement with the council and residents, and be willing to flex their plans in line with feedback from all parties. People understandably object to having things ‘done’ to them. Allowing them to be involved in the process and shape the plans not only assuage the fear factor, it also leads to better developments. Think about place making, not just unit numbers. Resident engagement may be time-consuming, but if the result is a first time granting of planning permission it saves costs that might otherwise be incurred in redrafting and resubmitting plans and fighting an appeal, never mind the costs associated with delayed construction and twitchy investors.

I would also like to see a change of attitude towards CIL and s106 contributions. Both of these ‘taxes’ have the aim of ensuring investment in the local infrastructure to support a new development. That investment can be for education and health facilities, transport infrastructure or public realm improvements. All of which increase the attractiveness of the development to potential buyers/tenants. And a development that enhances an area ensures that local property values remain buoyant.

We have positive testimony from partners who have worked with us in this way: CNM Estates, Subsea 7, Affinity Sutton, Schroders.

And finally a defence of local planning officers who took a bit of a hit in the conference debates. These are professionally qualified, highly skilled people, who are under-resourced and underpaid. They work to nationally-set time scales for dealing with planning applications, and are only allowed to recover costs at rates also set nationally. Rates that do not actually cover the cost of the planning service. In their work they are pitted against highly rewarded asset managers, architects, planning lawyers and transport consultants whose job is to make money for their investment backers. Most planning officers want to see quality developments in their area as much as residents, and delays are frequently more about staff shortages or lack of resources than the obstructive mentality they are frequently portrayed as having.

In Sutton we have a pro-growth agenda, Opportunity Sutton. We welcome new development to deliver the housing and economic growth our borough needs. Our ask is for good quality, sustainable design that works with the local area, and reflects our residents’ needs and aspirations. To help we aim to work in a joined up way across services to facilitate progress through the planning process and are investing in improving our planning service offer. We are refreshing our Local Plan to make it simpler and clearer for developers to understand what our vision for the borough is, and what our expectations are, whilst leaving room for innovation and quality.

And in line with another issue raised at the conference, we have brought businesses together with training providers so there is an understanding of the skills gaps and as a result many more construction training courses are being provided by our local colleges, and school children are being encouraged to look at careers in the construction industry.

It was interesting to hear Tim Craine of Molior London talk about feeling the need to be a bit more ‘socially conscious’, in particular when negotiating affordable housing. This was refreshing, and perhaps another way of thinking about it is to understand that we are building the homes, and the London, both for ourselves, and for our children. If we want people to work in the city then we need to provide the housing for those people. And everyone wants to live in a nice home that meets their needs where they can feel part of a community and have access to the services they need. I don’t know of many people who aspire to rent a cupboard.

Sutton Point, CNM Estates

 

March 19, 2015 Posted by | Opinion | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Affordable Housing Motion to Full Council 19th January 2015

Monday’s Full Council saw me propose a motion to Council on the subject of Delivering Affordable Housing to Sutton Residents. The motion calls on Central Government to devolve more funding and powers to Local Authorities who show that they are willing to deliver the necessary housing growth. It also highlighted the work that Sutton is already doing to use its existing powers to deliver new homes. The full text of the motion can be read here.

The text of my speech is shown at the end of this post.

Cllr Richard Clifton seconded the motion and spoke powerfully about the increasing gap between rich and poor, the failure of the Conservative’s trickle down ideology, and the shame that in our Western world we are currently seeing reliance on food banks.

Other speakers also talked about the impacts of welfare reform, the basic right to a decent home and the health implications of poor housing. We heard powerful maiden speeches from Cllr Amy Haldane supporting the work to provide temporary accommodation in borough by converting Oakleigh, and from Cllr Manuel Abellan speaking about his experience as a member of ‘Generation Rent’.

I was pleased to hear both Cllrs Hanna Zuchowski and Graham Whitham highlight the failings of government initiatives as exemplified by the extended Permitted Development Rights: a particular bug-bear of mine.

Cllr Muhammad Sadiq provided more details of our ‘ask’ from central government.

I was very pleased to receive support for the motion and the principle from my opposition colleagues too, even if Cllr Crowley tried to divert the debate into being about the Life Centre! However I did understand their questions about a business case and was able to clarify that the new housing development company was in essence a vehicle to enable the council to take up opportunities that may arise and to work more flexibly in partnership with other housing providers, as well as provide housing directly itself. As each opportunity arises a full business case will be worked up which will be presented to the relevant committees for full scrutiny, including by the opposition.

I didn’t get chance in the debate but take the opportunity now to respond to the point about using our own sites before asking the Mayor to release land. The 140 new council houses we are building does just that. The sites are already identified and were noted in previous papers presented to the Strategy & Resources Committee. We also have a formal system to review all council sites that have the potential for disposal that balances the income potential against the benefits of alternative use such as for housing. Some of the sites identified for new council houses came about as a result of this process. Of course other needs and ambitions for the borough need to be taken into account such as maintaining or increasing employment land and stimulating the local economy. The development company also gives us the potential to purchase privately owned sites, should the business case stack up.

The formal questions submitted by Cllr Crowley for response during the debate gave me the opportunity to expand on the work that is embedded within council practices to engage positively with private sector landlords in Sutton to encourage them to offer affordable rents, and the ongoing work to bring empty properties back into use.

Of course it is all very well to talk about what we want to do, but the proof is in delivery, and that is my key concern. We are already on schedule to build around 140 new council homes in the next six years, and our current regeneration schemes are delivering 700 new or improved properties. The new development company gives us the power and the flexibility to seize on new opportunities, and the council is already being proactive in this, so I expect to see some exciting business cases to deliver new housing being prepared in the not too distant future.

My speech proposing the motion:

For many years housing hasn’t featured in any Governments’ manifesto. Whilst property prices were increasing steadily all was thought to be well with the world. Middle class people would sit at dinner parties discussing their increasing property values and houses were seen more as investments than homes. Owning property was a key aspiration and incentives such as right-to-buy encouraged this view.

But this blasé attitude when times were good is the reason we now face a housing crisis. When the bubble burst there was suddenly no incentive for private developers to build, but nor had public money been invested into providing new council housing.

Suddenly house prices are out of reach of the majority, our children look set to still be living with us well into their thirties, while unscrupulous private landlords are cashing in on the increased demand by hiking rents through the roof. The ridiculousness of this situation is that it adds to the budget deficit as more money has to be spent on housing benefit as even an average working family now needs help to pay their rent.

This is illustrated by the fact that 50% of the people on the waiting list for a council property are in work.

And now housing is on every party’s manifesto. Unfortunately the desperate measures taken to try to stimulate housebuilding have failed. They have failed because we have Conservative Ministers that believe that the private sector will provide the solution to everything. Reality shows that this is not the case. We need to have public investment in housing. And as central government is not prepared to do it, we as the local authority will.

This council is investing £30m in building around 140 new council homes over the next six years. We can do this thanks to the devolution of responsibility for managing the housing revenue account. A change that Liberal Democrats and tenants in this very borough campaigned for tirelessly. Ask Cllr Crossby about the Daylight Robbery campaign!

But we have gone further in our ambitions to address the imbalance in the housing market. We have seized on our new localism powers and are establishing a council owned development company. The aim of this company will be to provide new housing across all tenures – private for sale, private for rent and social housing, but all with the key principle that this housing will be at prices local people can afford!

This company gives us the freedom to act independently of government handouts, and to work flexibly with private sector providers to deliver new housing. It has already proved a popular idea as we have been approached by a number of housing providers looking for innovative ways to work together to increase the amount of housing in Sutton. And if we use this company to invest in the private rented sector it means that we can offer longer term tenancies and provide the security that many renters lack.

And by being involved in the development of this housing the council has more control over design and standards, so that we get quality affordable homes for local people, not luxury apartments that only the rich can afford, or substandard boxes in poorly converted buildings.

Interestingly it was Planning Departments that were the first to be blamed for the slow down in housebuilding. Interesting then that for every 2.5 houses with planning permission, only one house has actually been built. That is not due to the planners.

I don’t have time here to talk about all the work this council is doing to ensure we can adequately house Sutton residents. But I do want to mention another way we are seeking to ensure that in Sutton the housing that is built is of a standard that anyone of us would be pleased to live in, and makes a positive contribution to our suburban borough.

We are doing this by working on a new Local Plan. This will ensure that our planning policies encourage new housebuilding, but also places strong requirements that they are of a high quality in terms of design and sustainability, and that new housing is accompanied by the transport, education and health infrastructure it will require. We want our residents to live in pleasant environments that enhance the treasured sense of community we have in Sutton, that allows space for parks and open land, whilst contributing to thriving neighbourhoods and district centres.

And all this is happening because as a local council we are taking matters into own hands, making the most of the devolved powers we have been given to meet the needs and deliver the aspirations of Sutton residents. Central government can only offer one-size fits all, top down solutions. We call for the powers to shape our own destiny, and can show that we can deliver more efficiently and effectively when we have that power.

January 21, 2015 Posted by | Committee Meeting | , , , , | Leave a comment

Evidence on welfare reform impacts at the London Assembly

assembly

I had been invited to give evidence on the impact of the Welfare Reforms on London Boroughs to the London Assembly Housing Committee on 12th February. I attended as representative of a Liberal Democrat-run borough alongside my Labour counterpart from Hackney, Karen Alcock, and Conservative Dudley Mead from Croydon.

Private rents increasingly unaffordable

Despite our political divergence, it was clear that we were all experiencing similar effects as a result of welfare reform. We were all seeing increased demand for private rented accommodation, but increasing rent levels are putting inner London properties outside the affordability of the majority, and as a result outer London boroughs were seeing increased migration from inner London as people seek to take advantage of the lower rents here. However even in outer London the discrepancy between Local Housing Allowance rates and actual rents was proving too large and this means that tenants are being forced into overcrowding as they cannot afford the larger houses they need. In Sutton the difference between the Local Housing Allowance rate and actual rents averaged 14% – a gap that is just too wide for families to cover, or for the Local Authorities to plug. I concurred with Cllr Alcock’s description of the pressure on the private rented sector as ‘the Perfect Storm’.

It is also clear that working people are finding the rents as unaffordable as those totally dependent on benefits.

I was able to point out that Local Housing Allowance is meant to be set to cover private rents falling within the 30th percentile of local Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMA), however steeply rising rents meant that properties renting in the LHA range were becoming rarer than that. I also questioned the accuracy of the calculation of the BRMA rates on which the LHA rate is set. If the basic calculation is flawed, then the books don’t balance.

Children & disabled face biggest impact

Another undesirable effect of the ‘Bedroom Tax’ and transfer of the Council Tax Reduction scheme from central to local government is the disproportionate impact on households with a disabled member, and families with children, most particularly single parent families. In Sutton we have 350 families who are impacted by this double whammy to the tune of more than £25 per week.

Increased pressure on cash-strapped councils

The fallout as a result of these pressures is that we are seeing an increase in people struggling to pay their rent and council tax, and starting to fall into arrears, and an increased number of applications for Discretionary Housing Payment Support and to our local Crisis Loan and Grant scheme. In Sutton we are putting increased effort into helping to prevent tenants falling into arrears, and invested in a Welfare Reform  Outreach Officer to work with those people affected by the reforms and help them budget and adapt to the changes. However more and more work is needed to be put in to support those affected, whilst at the same time councils are facing cuts to the funding available for this work, as announced by Eric Pickles recently. The pressure on staff to administrate and mitigate these new burdens passed on from central government was echoed by my colleagues giving evidence. Then there is the increase in homelessness applications, and the additional work necessary to prevent homelessness and maintain our good relationships with private landlords by offering financial incentives. And all of this pressure is likely to increase with the introduction of Universal Credit.

Benefits of welfare reform hard to identify

One Assembly member asked what we thought were the benefits of welfare reform, and there was a long period of silence. Eventually I volunteered that we had seen an increase of people getting into employment in Sutton, however it would be hard to directly attribute this to welfare reforms because under our Opportunity Sutton Economic Programme we have been making a concerted effort to bring new jobs into the borough through inward investment, and to skill-up our residents to enable them to take advantage of those employment opportunities through our Skills Matching work.

Broken communities

I was keen to highlight the equally damaging, but less easily quantified social impacts of the reforms. The financial pressure on families to seek out cheaper accommodation is leading to the break up of communities and local support networks. Families are losing the informal childcare arrangements with family and neighbours, they are finding it harder to maintain school places, employment and health & social support. They may find themselves paying less rent, but have additional travelling costs to work or education. This is particularly the case for low paid workers, who are effectively being banished from inner London.

Financial stress can manifest itself in domestic violence, relationship breakdown, debt and mental health issues. If the problem then has to be picked up by the NHS, the Police or social workers, then the reforms are a false economy and are just cost shunting onto other services. It can also unravel the complex multi-agency work being done under the Troubled Families schemes. We can also expect to see an increase in anti-social behaviour where communities are broken up and people feel less connection to an area.

The solution: more housing

When asked what the solutions were, all three boroughs agreed that increasing the supply of housing across all tenures was the key, as the issue was essentially affordability of housing. We also agreed that the way to assist in that was to devolve greater freedom and powers to Local Authorities by increasing our borrowing powers, and having less caveats on grants & borrowing. I disagreed with my Conservative colleague that the planning system was a blockage, as in Sutton we offer a facilititive approach with the aim of bringing forward development that works for the area, as well as for the developer. The Hackney member & I also agreed that councils could take over the work programme as we have shown in many areas that local government can implement these initiatives more efficiently and cost effectively than central government.

I additionally pointed out the disconnect between rent policy and housing policy which needed to be properly addressed to enable new measures to work effectively.

Our evidence was part of a piece of work being done by the London Assembly Housing Committee and a report will be forthcoming on completion.

February 17, 2014 Posted by | Meeting | , , | 1 Comment

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