Diary of a Sutton Councillor

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

Sutton’s Response to the Mayor’s London Plan

This is the covering letter summarising our response to the draft London Plan.

Many of the points are also relevant to the Conservative Government’s proposed revisions to National Planning Policy, described by the Town & Country Planning Association as amounting to deregulated Private-sector-led development model, with little focus on placemaking.



March 15, 2018 Posted by | Information | , , , , | 1 Comment

Supporting business in Sutton

What is Sutton Council delivering for you?

As a continuation of a series of posts setting out current activities in the areas covered by my committee portfolio – the Housing, Economy & Business Committee I have previously posted about Housing, and Employment and Skills. This post focuses on business.



Sutton Lib Dems are ambitious for Sutton, and we want to see growth in Sutton, good growth that benefits the community and existing businesses.


Attracting new business and investment

To achieve those ambitions Sutton’s Lib Dem Council has taken a proactive role to stimulate economic development in the borough. We have deliberately sought to attract new business and investment, and to support and encourage our existing businesses to grow and flourish.

We have put money in, we have put work in, and we have vastly changed the way we work to make things happen.



Making the borough a great place for business

Making our district centres  more attractive for shoppers and easier to access.

We have improved Wallington, Hackbridge, and Worcester Park and we are currently working on a major programme in Beddington. Sutton Town Centre has its own Masterplan.


We have encouraged Business Improvement Districts and now have three established BIDs: Successful Sutton, Kimpton Park and our second Industrial BiD in Beddington. Successful Sutton and Kimpton Park have both been successfully renewed. We expect a new BID in Worcester Park to be voted on later this year.


We have lobbied hard for improved transport links that are an essential for business.

We have succeeded in getting the Sutton Tram extension included in the London Mayor’s plan, successfully lobbied for retention of the Thameslink loop line, and we expect to benefit locally from the Mayor’s plans to increase the frequency of trains on our networks. We succeeded in securing significant TfL funding for improvements to the road network in our Beddington industrial area.



Supporting small businesses

We have over 6,000 small businesses in Sutton, representing a significant proportion of the business community.

We have worked specifically to provide the right conditions for small businesses to start up, thrive and grow, and we arrange key advice and new opportunities to grow small businesses into larger ones. We encourage start ups with schemes such as our local business rate relief scheme for business keen to expand into Sutton town centre, and our Award-winning Pop Up Sutton project.


We also worked to ensure that small businesses can compete equally with larger firms to win council contracts. Our Procurement Strategy was redesigned to create a more level playing field, and now 80% of our contracts are awarded to SMEs, amounting to 50% of the total value of our awarded contracts. We also require our larger contractors to use local suppliers and sub-contractors, to make sure that small businesses can still benefit when they win a tender.



Skills training to improve the local workforce offer

Very importantly we have been keen to ensure that it is our businesses and residents that reap the benefits of this business expansion and investment by ensuring that our residents have the necessary skills to take up the enhanced employment offer this presents. This has been done through our Skills Match programme, with a special focus on Sutton for Science to ensure local people benefit from the new job opportunities offered by the London Cancer Hub development.


Achieving success

Our ambitious approach has already proved fruitful. We have attracted new business, new development, new interest and new investment into Sutton.

New investment to the tune of £330 million pounds. 939 new businesses and 33 new shops opening in just the first few years, resulting in a 137% increase in net growth.


New businesses coming to Sutton like Metro Bank, Patisserie Valerie, Shinner and Sudtone, The Slug and Luttuce, Sainsburys, Lidl, El Mexicana, Foxtons, GoGym, and with H&M now confirmed as taking over the old BHS site.


New investment like Subsea 7’s expansion into new headquarters, Sutton Point‘s hotel, shops and housing currently in development, new housing from big developers like L&Q, Barratt’s & Redrow, the redevelopment of Times Square shopping centre and new ownership of the St Nicholas Centre, the refurbishment of the Empire Cinema, the Maggie Centre development by the Royal Marsden and the new Diagnostics Centre being built by the ICR.

We have also seen an increase in ambition and optimism for the borough amongst our businesses, and we have been making our mark on the national stage too. Our London Cancer Hub Opportunity is being marketed around the world.


March 12, 2018 Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Council votes through fourth year Council Tax Freeze

Last night Full Council approved its budget for 2013/14 which included a freeze to the council tax for the fourth consecutive year. Councillor Simon Wales, Lead member for Resources, set out in his speech how we had managed to achieve this against the background of cuts to local authority grant funding.

There were a number of contributions from fellow members setting out what we had managed to achieve over the year, and I was particularly impressed by Cllr Kirsty Jerome’s enthusiastic account of the work being done in North Cheam and Worcester Park through the Outer London Fund.

I used my speech to highlight the positive work we are doing to stimulate growth and investment in the borough. Full text is set out below.

A budget to support our economic growth strategy

The key issue the country is facing is the difficult economic climate. A lethal combination of factors has left the UK teetering on the edge of a triple dip recession, desperately seeking some green shoots of growth. In response to the situation Labour left the country in, the Coalition has made drastic cuts to government spending, many of which have fallen to local authorities to deliver.

These cuts have been painful, and whilst all authorities have been required to take their share of the cuts, they do not fall even-handedly: those councils that have been wasteful or built up large reserves have found it easier than those councils who have been efficient, or who never received a large proportion of government grant in the first place.

The two things that have assisted Sutton in dealing with the difficult times we face are preparation; and ensuring that the measures we implement are right for Sutton, right for our residents.

We anticipated stringent cuts, and implemented major programmes for change early on to ensure that we reviewed and adapted our operations with due consideration. Ensuring fairness and protecting the most vulnerable was at the heart of our approach.

And we have also understood that the way out of this recession is to stimulate growth. That is sustainable growth, not a boom and bust economy, but growth that brings employment for local people, new opportunities for developing and using the skills of local residents, growth that doesn’t just ensure profits for developers, but also secures additional trade for local businesses and service providers. We want growth that adds to and increases the vitality of our town and district centres, ensuring vibrant shopping and community hubs into the future. Here we recognised the need for ambition and investment in Sutton, and we also recognised that it was up to us to do it for ourselves.

All the economic growth funding for London has been placed in the hands of the London Mayor, so we have to fight hard to win a share for our quiet suburban borough.

But we recognised that we needed to fight for economic growth in Sutton, for the sake of our residents and our future, and we knew that there was ample opportunity within Sutton to make that growth happen. So last year we launched our economic growth strategy, called, of course, Opportunity Sutton, and declared Sutton Open for Business. Sustainable business!

But to deliver on that declaration, we have to have the resources in place to meet the challenge. And our budget makes a massive statement to that effect. It gives a commitment to supporting our economic strategy, and it does it in such a way to ensure that our delivery plans are robust and costed, in line with our overall council policies, and that they ensure a positive impact on our residents.

And our Opportunity Sutton approach is already delivering the stimulus required. We have seen unprecedented investment interest in Sutton, with key problem sites like Victoria House in North Cheam, and Sutton Point now with viable development plans and local support.

We have won funding from central and regional government to enable us to achieve our ambitions for our district centres in Wallington, Worcester Park and Beddington and Hackbridge. And we have attracted new and prestigious businesses to our town centres like Metro Bank and Patisserie Valerie.

This is a significant achievement when viewed against the background of national growth shrinkage, and means that our early preparations were sound. This budget seeks to consolidate that work, and flags up that directorates across the council need to work together to secure the benefits Opportunity Sutton can achieve.

I have already mentioned the jobs and business as benefits of this investment, but I need to highlight that it is also the way we will deliver the new homes that are so desperately needed, it will enable the regeneration of parts of Sutton as we continue with the Durand programme and Hackbridge projects, and it will help us make the case for Tramlink to come to Sutton.

And finally it will ease the burden on our council taxpayers, as the increase in income from new business rates directly benefits Sutton through the new local authority grant settlement.

This budget is a forward looking budget, one which is ambitious for Sutton, and for Sutton’s residents, and I commend it to Council.

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Committee Meeting | , , , , | Leave a comment


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