NEW PLAN TO OPEN UP THE SIDE ENTRANCE TO SUTTON STATION

The side entrance at Sutton station

As local Councillors, we have been enthusiastically promoting and supporting a campaign to ease the congestion at peak times at Sutton station and create an easier route into and out of the station for Sutton South residents by opening up the side entrance. We will continue to promote this campaign.

Our latest proposal is that we will be preparing a bid under  TfL’s “Major Schemes Funding”, for this scheme. The bids are required to be submitted to TfL in September, so we have started work on it and Council Leader Ruth Dombey wrote to Boris Johnson on 29 May to seek his support. We will consult with stakeholders as appropriate. The bid will be for a wider scheme to improve the area around the station, a “Major Scheme” bid. Opening up and staffing the station side entrance is a matter for Southern Rail so the Council will need to enter into an agreement with them to open it up. They agreed to this ‘in principle’ during the Outer London Fund bid preparation, when the Council submitted a well-researched bid for funding under the Mayor’s Outer London Fund to facilitate the opening of the side entrance at the station.

Opening the side entrance would be of benefit to the many commuters and other travellers who live in South Sutton Ward, who could enter and leave the station by this entrance, leading directly into The Quadrant. A page on this site (“Ward Map”) leads you to a map of the Ward, which shows the importance of opening this entrance. As rail travellers pass through the side entrance they would cross the boundary into Sutton South Ward.

As Sutton South Ward Councillors we strongly support this bid, as the outcome would be of benefit to our residents.

The Council wants to improve the “Gateway” into Sutton and the experience of those arriving in Sutton. Hence it wishes to improve Sutton station. The station is an important focal point for the town centre and the first impression that many visitors have of Sutton. It has been identified byTransport for London as a station that suffers from congestion problems due to its limited capacity in terms of the front entrance hall and ticket barriers. The Council continues to hope, in partnership with Southern Rail, to open the side entrance to the station for passenger use. In the longer term a more comprehensive re-development of the station is hoped for to expand and modernise passenger facilities and and enhance this important gateway and transport interchange.

The side entrance at Sutton station would cater for the considerable demand for direct access to the station from the Quadrant House office block, which houses Reed Business Information (which has approximately 2 000 employess, many of whom travel to work by train) and a number of other companies. This office block and those who work there are an important contributor to the economic vitality of Sutton. Reed Business Information fully supported the bid. The new side entrance would also serve the station car park, motor cycle and cycle parking areas, which generate considerable demand for access from that side of the station. It would also serve all the residents of Sutton South Ward who approach the station via Wellesley Road from the Langley Park Road direction.

Opening up the side entrance, which physically is already there, requires the installation of automatic ticket barriers with Oyster readers, a new ticket machine,  associated lighting, signing, communication improvements and CCTV improvements. Staffing costs would be met by Southern Rail. It is accepted that the side entrance would probably not be open all day, but using the entrance could ease the congestion at the station if open during peak hours in the morning and evening.

Despite this strong case, the Mayor refused to support the earlier Outer London Fund bid, although accepting other aspects of the Council’s bid for funding under that scheme. We are not giving up and are taking forward this further “Major Schemes Funding” option. Let us hope for eventual success, as this development will be of value to the residents of Sutton South Ward.

ACTION TO IMPROVE PEDESTRIAN SAFETY AT THE GRANGE VALE BRIDGE

The bridge as it was.

The bridge as it is now.

We are pleased to report success in our campaign to improve pedestrian safety at the Grange Vale bridge.

Action has been taken to improve the safety of pedestrians who pass under the railway bridge in Grange Vale. Grange Vale is a one-way street and the traffic passes in the direction that is away from you as you look at the bridge in these photographs.

There is a very narrow pavement where Grange Vale passes under the railway bridge on the Sutton to Epsom Downs line. As Grange Vale is a one-way street, cars roar round the corner from the Brighton Road end and under the bridge, the driver only seeing a pedestrian on the pavement (or in the road, the pavement being so narrow) under the bridge at the last moment. It is a particular problem for parents with buggies or small children passing under the bridge.

A bid was submitted to Transport for London for the installation of a pedestrian-operated traffic light system, so the pedestrian can stop the traffic while passing under the bridge. Transport for London, led by Tory Mayor Boris Johnson, did not support the proposal, as not meeting their normal criteria for such a development. Your local LibDem Councillors have looked at alternative methods of improving the safety of the road for pedestrians.

The action taken has been to build out the pavement on the right just in front of the bridge as you look at it in these photographs, with posts at the edge of the pavement, to slow the speed of the traffic as cars have to align themselves more carefully before entering under the bridge.

We have campaigned for this improvement since we were elected and are pleased that we have got action.

Measuring our success at the bridge

Because of the dip in the road, the road can be flooded during the leaf fall season, as there are a lot of trees nearby including those next to the railway line. We have got the response team to agree to treat Grange Vale as a priority during the leaf fall season. Nevertheless, last year the road was briefly flooded due to leaf fall blocking the drains and Richard himself cleared the drains.

The drains after Richard cleared them.

PARKING IN WESTMORELAND DRIVE AND BLACKBUSH CLOSE

Richard organised a meeting with residents in Blackbush Close on 25 January, attended by Councillors and Council officials. Residents want to increase parking in Blackbush Close, as there is a shortage of parking spaces for those living in the blocks in Bonchurch Close and Blackbush Close. It was agreed that proposals to remove yellow lines on one side of the road over a part of Blackbush Close will be actively examined. An alternative would be to extend the parking controls in the adjacent Controlled Parking Zone to the road. Richard will get back to residents as this proposal progresses.

We are grateful to residents of Westmoreland Drive who contacted us following our letter to residents on the subject of proposals for yellow lines controlling parking in the road. Last September The Council consulted residents on proposals for yellow lines in Westmoreland Drive, responding to concerns about access for emergency vehicles following a fire in which a resident died. The clear majority view of residents was that the initial proposals were not acceptable due to the reduction in parking spaces.  

As local Councillors, we discussed with Council officers how to meet the wishes of residents. A reduced proposal is to free up one side of the road by removing all the proposed yellow lines on the left hand side as you walk from Ventnor Road down Westmoreland Drive but retaining those on the right. This should maintain access but meet concerns about the number of parking spaces available to residents, by reducing the restrictions on parking.

The Fire Service have been consulted, to be sure they will be able to gain access in an emergency when the reduced scheme is implemented. This scheme appears acceptable to a majority of residents and if it meets the concerns for emergency access it will in due course be implemented.

Blackbush Close: where residents would like more parking to be available. The proposal is to remove the yellow line on the left but make the yellow line on the right a double yellow line for part of the road, a little beyond where this photo was taken. Alternatively, bring the road within the Controlled Parking Zone.

COUNCIL CHALLENGES BORIS ON TRANSPORT

 

The Mayor of London has been accused of short-changing Sutton after the borough was given the capital’s lowest transport grant. 

Each year, every London borough receives Local Implementation Plan (LIP) funding from Transport for London (TfL) to invest in local projects which support the Mayor’s plan for transport in the capital. For the second year in a row, Sutton has been given the least in London, leaving the council with less money to invest in the transport infrastructure.

frustrated councillors have criticised the Mayor for failing to invest in Sutton, despite the borough’s track record in delivering innovative transport plans.

Cllr Simon Wales, Executive Member for Communities, Transport and Voluntary Sector on Sutton Council, said: “Sutton has a great track record in running innovative and successful transport schemes, but we need money to make them work. The council and members of the local community work together to make sure the transport system keeps getting better and better but the fact remains that we could do even more if we had more funding.

“I’m disappointed that the Mayor and TfL won’t give Sutton the same kind of grant that it awards to other boroughs. This means that some of the improvements that we have planned will have to be cut back, or even shelved completely. We think that Sutton’s residents deserve better, and will continue working hard to carry out transport improvements that the local community wants to see.”

As well as schemes to boost traffic flow and make travel more sustainable, LIP funding is used to make the borough’s roads safer.  Maintenance works are financed through a separate budget, but improvements to reduce the number of road accidents often come out of LIP resources. Transport investment is particularly important in the current economic climate, as good accessibility is one of the factors that help town centres and local shops to thrive.

In Sutton, LIP money has been used to continue the successful initiatives on sustainable transport under the scheme known as Smarter Travel Sutton, which increased cycling by 75 per cent and is now used as example by other councils, after the initial project came to an end.

 

TRAIN LINKS TO NORTH LONDON MUST REMAIN

Sutton Council agreed a motion on Monday 18 July deploring a proposal floated by the train operating companies that trains from Sutton on the Capital Connect line to north London (passing through Farringdon, St. Pancras International and St. Albans on the way to Luton airport) would all terminate at Blackfriars.

Councillor Clifton was to be one of the proposers of the motion but due to the length of debate on earlier motions the motion was voted on without debate. Here is the text of the speech he was to have made:

“I am confident that we will all want to support this motion and to emphasise the importance to Sutton of maintaining a through rail service to north London. I’d like to mention a significant detail that ought to be recognised in our examination of this proposal here tonight.

This concerns the importance of links to St Pancras International as St Pancras develops further as an international rail hub.

Over the next few years there will be a mushrooming of international rail travel from London. If the current plans of Deutschbahn and Eurostar come to fruition – as they will – by 2014 it will be possible, on arriving at St Pancras, to have a choice of services, competing against each other, to travel from London to Amsterdam.

In addition to the current services to Brussels and Paris there will also be services from London to North Germany. This is a big market in terms of business travel. At present, each day, about 30 plane services fly between London’s airports and destinations in north Germany, carrying about the same number of people as could be carried by four or five train services using the Velaro D trains that are even now being built to provide rolling stock for these services, by the train manufacturer Siemens at its Dusseldorf factory, which in fact I visited last year.

Aside from the potential importance of these international links to the residents of Sutton, there are international companies that have significant centres of their enterprises in Sutton – Sutton, a thriving London suburb, offering office space much cheaper than that found in the centre of London, less than half an hour by train from the centre, with a pleasant ambience and environment, and a location from which – importantly – you can reach the centre of Brussels in just two train journeys, one taking about 40 minutes and one about 2 hours.

And the centre of Paris in just 15 minutes more. And soon – Amsterdam, north Germany.

These transport links are links that it is vital for Sutton to maintain, for the sake of our residents but also to maintain our attractiveness as a centre for business development.

We must keep pressure on the Department for Transport to make clear that the changes to the Capital Connect franchise being sought by the domestic train companies, that remove our links to north London and in particular to St Pancras, are just not acceptable.”

REDUCING SPEEDING IN SUTTON SOUTH WARD

An issue raised with us from time to time by residents is that cars travel too fast along the quiet back roads in some parts of our Ward.

Consequently the police have been working with the community on an inititive known as “Speedwatch”.

On the morning of 6 June a group from the Sutton South police consultative panel (visit the page on this site called “Sutton Police” for details of panel meetings) were stationed, early in the morning, in The Ridgway in South Sutton. Using a complex piece of technology, they recorded the speed of cars coming down the road, so that the police could stop and warn anyone speeding.

In the picture you can see representatives of the panel and the police with Councillor Richard Clifton, holding the “gun” that is pointed at cars and records their speed. This was the first in a programme of such speed recording activities.

We support initiatives to reduce the problem of speeding cars in our Ward.