The float entered by the London Borough of Sutton won fourth prize in the 2017 London New Year’s Day Parade, our best result in over a decade and a stunning achievement given the stiff competition from other London Boroughs.
On 20 June Trish and Richard attended the flag raising ceremony, raising the Armed Forces Day flag in Sutton Town Square, to honour our armed services. This marked the start of Armed Forces Week. Richard, as Mayor, led the event.
Richard said “Our Armed Forces are busy working around the world, promoting peace, delivering aid, tackling drug smugglers, tackling people smugglers, providing security, fighting terrorism. They work in difficult, dangerous and unpleasant conditions away from their families and the luxuries we all take for granted. They operate in environments where the very basics of security and safety are absent. They face, daily, a daunting challenge, doing work that is vital to the protection of our society and our way of life. we now watch with pride as the Armed Forces Day flag is raised for those who are currently serving and those who have served.”
On 25 June Richard visited the army centre in Stonecot Hill (see photo) and observed the work of 151 Logistics Corps. On 20 July he attended a reception given by 151 Logistics Corps at which there was stirring rendition of “Highland Cathedral” (a composition popular with the concert bands Richard plays with) by the Ghurka pipe and drum band.
Every borough in London is struggling to keep place with the increasing demand for school places. Sutton has done well to cope with the increased demand for primary school places. The bulge is now working its way through to secondary schools. Hence the need for Overton Grange school (the only secondary school in our Ward) to expand, and the need for a new school.
Sutton is doing well. It has the third-highest first-preference rate for secondary school places in London, with almost 80 per cent of local families receiving their first choice of school for their child – well above the London average of 68.52 per cent.
Sutton has once again achieved one of the best rates overall, with the percentage of families receiving one of their top-three preferences increasing to 94.5 per cent – up 1.5 per cent from 2015 and almost six percentage points above the London average of 88.64 per cent.
Parents in the borough have been told which secondary schools have made offers of places for their children for the September 2016 intake.
In September, these children will start at our secondary schools, officially ranked as being among the best in England for teaching and exam results. In 2015, the proportion of Sutton students scoring 5 or more A* to C grades including English and Maths was 76.9 per cent, well above the 2014 national average of 53.4 per cent. Across the borough, 83.5 per cent of pupils achieved five or more GCSEs.
Almost two-thirds (65.1 per cent) of students across the borough achieved the highest A-Level A*, A and B grades in 2015 and the percentage of Sutton students achieving an A-Level pass grade (A* to E) increased to 99.7 per cent from 98.5 per cent in 2014. This was well above the UK average.
Sutton Council’s Planning Committee, which Richard chairs, has agreed expansion plans for Overton Grange school, the only secondary school in Sutton South Ward.
Sutton Council, like every London Borough, has been pursuing a strategy to cope with the increased demand for school places. Having successfully coped with a surge in demand for primary school places, the bulge is now moving through to secondary schools. The Council continues to work on its proposals for at least one new secondary school in Sutton, while almost all of the existing secondary schools – including Overton Grange – are submitting plans to expand the number of places.
Overton Grange school is the only secondary school in our Ward and, while it takes students from all over Sutton, many local parents send their children there. Like many Sutton schools, it is planning to expand its intake to meet the additional demand for secondary school places in the Borough due to rising numbers of children. Currently the school takes in 210 students each year and it plans to expand the school by increasing its intake by a class of 30 each year from autumn 2016.
The school, which has “Academy” status so it is not under the control of the local authority, staged an exhibition of its building plans on 22 April, at the school. A new teaching block is proposed, and the school is taking the opportunity of the building work to expand its canteen, which is not large enough for the current size of the school.
At the time of the last local elections, last May, scare stories were put round that the school planned to expand into Overton Park. This is not the case.
Richard said, after the Planning Committee decision ” The rising number of children reaching secondary school age means that expansion of our schools is necessary, alongside the proposals for new schools, and I am pleased the Council is taking effective action to avert any crisis in school places. I am pleased there is no intention to expand into the park, a story that had no foundation and was a political scare story.”
Overton Grange plans to expand its intake by 30 pupils per year, a one form intake, from the autumn of 2016. The Planning Committee considered a report on an application for the erection of a part ground, part first, part second floor extension, to provide five additional classrooms with ancillary accommodation, three single storey extensions to provide additional canteen, kitchen and storage facilities, together with roof canopy to the main front entrance, a detached store, with soft and hard landscaping.
Overton Grange is a popular local school and this extension will continue to ensure there are sufficient places locally for children reaching secondary school age, so this is good news for the many parents in the area who have young children. Secondary school provision in the area will be further enhanced by the decision to build the first of the new secondary schools we need on the nearby Sutton hospital site.
On 15 July Sutton Council debated our on-going commitment to the sustainability agenda and Sutton’s desire to be London’s most sustainable suburb. Sutton is ranked the highest outer London Borough in having the lowest CO2 emissions.
We represent Sutton South Ward, which has only one open space, the Devonshire Avenue Nature Area, an oasis of open space in an area dominated by small blocks of flats, where a study showed half the children live in properties without a garden. We think it commendable that Sutton Council has ensured that this site remains a nature reserve. But a few years ago that meant leaving it as jungle. It was little used, except for anti-social happenings behind the brick walls that still occupied part of the site. Today it remains a nature area, aiding the survival of the rare small blue butterfly (a talisman of Sutton South Ward), but it has benches, paths and a nature trail. We wanted to take the opportunity the motion afforded to pay tribute to Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers, who maintain the site, and to those who distribute the funds to aid community projects provided by the landfill operator Viridor, whose funding, in 2012, paid for the renovation of the site.
On 26 March the Sutton South Hello! Thursday afternoon group launched a major exhibition of their work at the Council’s historic museum Honeywood, in Carshalton. The launch was well attended and our picture shows Heather Honour with the Mayor of Sutton, Councillor Arthur Hookway, the Care Minister Norman Lamb MP (who launched the Hello! project on 9 May 2012, see below) and local MP Paul Burstow.
On 24 February 2015 Sutton South Hello! received an award in the Sutton Community Awards annual awards ceremony. This was in the “Community Spirit” category for actions that have brought the community together through community events. The photo shows the Hello! team with the certificate. Left to right the Hello! team who came up to collect the award are Colin Iddles (chair of South Sutton Neighbourhood Association), Gerry Benworth (Skill), Fran Wilson (secretary of the Hello! board), Heather Honour (Chair and Founder), Nedal Ali, Councillor Nali Patel.
South Sutton Hello! is the brainchild of our former Liberal Democrat Councillor Heather Honour, an initiative to combat loneliness and isolation. It is supported by major local charities like AgeUK, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Sutton Mental Health Foundation, and local residents’ Associations such as the South Sutton Neighbourhood Association and the Highfields Residents’ Association. Heather chairs the Board and has been the driving force behind the project.
It was launched at Christchurch, in Christchurch Park, on 9 May 2012 by the Care Minister, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, and is intended to be a pilot for similar initiatives elsewhere. There are now similar Hello! clubs elsewhere in Sutton, such as Worcester Park.
Sutton South Ward was chosen as, on the basis Campaign to End Social Isolation toolkit, it is a ward where the risk of social isolation is particularly high:
– the Ward has the highest proportion of over 65’s of any Ward in Sutton
– the proportion over 85 is double the Sutton and national average
– there are a large number of people living in sheltered accommodation for the elderly or in single occupancy flats
– over three quarters of residents live in purpose-built blocks of flats
– almost half of all households are single person households
– but a quarter of residents in the Ward say they regularly volunteer in some capacity, so there is a high level of community activism.
The project has drawn together a listing of the various community initiatives in Sutton South, particularly those run by the churches and AgeUK. It has produced newsletters. There are a number of specific activities it has promoted, in particular the Wednesday “Hello Club” at Christchurch and a Thursday club on craft activities. The project has been aided in setting up these activities by SCILL (Sutton Centre for Independent Living and Learning) and AgeUK
AgeUK has assisted with the organisation of chair based exercises. Councillor Nali Patel often attends and forms a link with the Sutton and Surrey Senior Citizens Club, which meets at the Thomas Wall Centre and is in particular a friendship club for Asians living in Sutton. Other activities in the Ward include the “Second Saturday” social club for older people at the Friends’ Meeting House on the second Saturday of each month.
AgeUK say there has been a 106% increase in callers from our Ward to its Information and Advice service since the project started promoting it. The project is seeking volunteers, particularly as befrienders. These are organised by the Sutton Centre for Independent Living and Learning (Skill). There is a phone number 0208 770 4065, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 24 March Richard attended the opening of the new community garden at Christchurch. This is a remarkable piece of work to turn a scrubby bit of wasteland into something attractive and useful, funded by lottery money, the church and the Council.
The picture shows left to right our MP Paul Burstow, the Mayor, the Reverend Justine Middlemiss (of the Christchurch team Ministry), the Bishop of Croydon and the Reverend Mark Pullinger (the vicar of Christchurch) at the opening. The Bishop blessed the garden.
Trish and Richard have welcomed a further OFSTED report on the progress of Devonshire Avenue primary school that gives the school a good rating. On 23 March Richard visited the school to see the Head, Mr Kersey, and congratulate him.
The school achieved “good” ratings in five separate assessment categories:
Leadership and management – Good
Behaviour and safety of pupils – Good
Quality of teaching – Good
Achievement of pupils – Good
Early years provision – Good
The summary of key findings prepared by OFSTED is reproduced below/
“Summary of key findings for parents and pupils
This is a good school Under the good leadership of the headteacher and deputy headteacher, there has been a successful drive to improve pupils’ achievement and the quality of teaching. They are well supported by other senior leaders, staff and governors. Consequently, the dip in pupils’ performance which occurred after the last inspection has been successfully addressed. Pupils make good progress from their well below average starting points. By Year 6, their attainment in reading, writing and mathematics is now above average. Pupils of all abilities achieve well with an increasing number making rapid progress in response to stimulating teaching. Improvement is particularly evident in writing which has, rightly, been a focus for development. A very careful watch is kept on the progress of all pupils. Any pupils falling behind because they find learning difficult are quickly given extra help. Provision and children’s progress in the Nursery is outstanding. Exciting learning opportunities encourage children to enjoy learning. Good progress in Reception ensures children get off to a good start. Teaching is good. There are good systems to develop it further. Staff value the support provided by school leaders to help them improve their teaching. School leaders have robust systems for promoting safeguarding. Pupils say they feel safe and are kept safe. They have good attitudes to learning and most behave well both in and out of the classroom. Most parents agree that behaviour is good. Governors give good levels of challenge to school leaders. They have a very detailed knowledge of the school and share everyone’s ambitions for continuous improvement.”
Our picture, above, is of Trish and Richard at the school in front of the artwork that the pupils prepared that now adorns the hoarding at the Subsea7 site in Brighton Road.
The show will go on for both of Sutton’s theatres which are set to be taken over a new theatre company to herald an exciting new era for the two venues.
The Sutton Theatres Trust will take over the running of the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre in Carshalton and the Secombe Theatre in Sutton.
Sutton Council began a review of its cultural services in August, through its Sutton’s Future campaign, which involves the pubic in helping to reshape Council services in order to make £40m of savings to its annual budget by 2019 due to unprecedented Government cuts.
The Council promised to consult users and try to find arts groups who could take over the ownership and management of the two theatres with no cost to the Council.
Through a series of meetings and workshops with potential bidders and 1,262 responses to an online and telephone survey, we have found the right candidate to take the theatres over and keep them open.
Sutton Theatres Trust, a company limited by guarantee, will lease both theatres for a 10-year period after being chosen from two bids on the basis of artistic and community value, financial stability and sustainability, governance and track record.
Sutton Council held its annual event for Holocaust Memorial Day on Friday 27th January 2012 in the Europa Gallery in Sutton Central Library. We both attended. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’ and had the aim of encouraging people to challenge injustice and hatred, thus creating a safer, better future. There were speeches from the Mayor of Sutton, Councillor Gerry Jerome, Holocaust survivor Marcel Ladenheim, Mr. Meddie Kakyama-Mayanja, who spoke on the African genocides, and Reverend Meir Lev, Minister of Sutton and District Synagogue. There were references to local experiences of hate crime in Sutton, along with a stall from the Safer Sutton Partnership on reporting hate crime, to bring a local perspective to the theme of ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’. There was also an exhibition with information and photographs on the theme.