RE-LAUNCH OF THE COMMUNITY-POLICE CONSULTATIVE PANEL

Our police station in Carshalton Road

An effort is being made, on 8 March, to re-launch the Community-Police Consultative Panel for our Ward.

This will be a meeting to which the public are invited, at 6pm, at Christchurch in Christchurch Park.

We were concerned after the last meeting of the panel, on 29 November, that numbers attending and the importance the police placed on the work of the panel were slipping. It was the first meeting for a long time as the summer meeting was cancelled at a late point due to it being on the evening of one of the football matches England were involved in in the World Cup. It was a meeting that left us feeling worried. An increase in crime, in burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles, was reported for the first time for some time. This may not be unrelated to problems of police numbers following the merger with Croydon and Bromley. There were a significant number of unfilled posts, vacancies, that the police were struggling to fill, particularly PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers). These officers are important for work on community relations. One member of staff was about to be moved to work in Croydon and we have again lost our Dedicated Ward Officer, Kellie Heath. Kellie has also moved to Croydon.

We hope for a better attendance on 8 March and welcome a new Chair, Aime.

 

RICHARD AND TRISH MEET STUDENTS AT THE GLENTHORNE SCHOOL CAREERS FAIR

At the fair

Richard and Trish were invited by Glenthorne school to attend their careers fair, where they met many of the school’s students. They discussed the work of local Councillors, political life in general, and careers as a local Government officer. Councils employ local Government officers as managers but also a wide variety of specialists, including town planners and traffic engineers.

Richard commented that during his year as Mayor he went to most Sutton schools and was particularly impressed by Glenthorne.

RESULTS OF SECOND ROUND OF CONSULTATION ON PARKING AWAITED

 

Are car clubs part of the solution?

The second round of consultation on parking proposals for the Ward has concluded and we await the results, which will be consulted on further. Here is the text of Richard’s speech on the parking consultation to the recent Council meeting.

“I am in my ninth year as a Councillor.

From day one, parking has been one of the major issues my residents complain to me about.

And it is obvious why – Sutton South Ward is close to the town centre, in the area close to the station there is intense demand for parking so it is rationed by making it a controlled parking zone, then you get to the area just outside the zone.

The example I always give is Mayfield Road which is the first road you come to outside the controlled zone walking east. So this road has bumper to bumper parking every day except Sunday, and the residents get fed up with it and campaign continuously for parking controls.

Over my nine years there have been several surveys of residents’ views on parking controls in Mayfield and neighbouring roads, including in 2016 when the three Ward Councillors – Councillor Shields, Councillor Fivey and myself, working across party lines as we often do – agreed a scheme with the traffic engineers which residents in Mayfield and neighbouring roads were consulted on. That scheme was abandoned as residents in other roads nearby said “What about us?” Fortunately the Parking Strategy Consultation had just been agreed so we were able to abandon the more limited scheme and promise a wider consultation of a wider area. I particularly remember this as the residents of Mayfield Road were not happy at the abandonment of the parking scheme for their road and came to the local committee to protest, where Councillor Shields told them we now intended to undertake a more “holistic” survey of the whole area. I particularly remember this as he used the word “holistic” and the residents looked at each other, seemingly wondering what this word meant.

So we, the Ward Councillors, jointly made a commitment to this consultation.

I think the staged consultation exercise is the best approach. It enables residents to see what is proposed for the wider area around them, based on the opinions of residents in the first round of consultation, and to modify their views accordingly in the second round.

And there will be a third round of consultation. Some residents say to me you are endlessly consulting, when are you going to do something?

The aim is to discover what the prevailing opinion is, and do what residents want.

Of course, whatever the result, even in some roads where there is a strong prevailing opinion, some people will be unhappy.

But that is no reason to hide under the table and not tackle what residents see as an important problem. We should not ignore it.

Now there are some bits of misinformation and distractions put about.

The “an abstention will be a positive vote” story has been adequately discredited. Of course, in Sutton South as a whole most residents are unaffected by these changes but in the roads affected there is a ferment of debate and social media helps spread awareness – every day someone tells me of some new Whatsapp or Facebook page. I cannot keep up.

The cash cow: parking schemes bring enforcement costs which have to be covered, though in fact of the 32 London Boroughs Sutton is one of the cheapest places to park. And we all know that the decision in the 2013 Barnet Council v Attfield case prohibits cross subsidisation of other Council services from parking charges, and as chair of the Audit and Governance Committee I can tell you that the external auditors would come down on us instantly if we breached that. In Sutton South the changes currently out for consultation would not increase revenue but would have costs.

Emissions based charging: I am not very green, we have two cars. The road tax – a charge set by Government – on my petrol driven Nissan is £120 a year. On my hybrid Honda it is £10. A massive difference. So relating charges to vehicle emissions is not an idea invented in the London Borough of Sutton, it is Government policy, a Conservative Government.

From next year the Ultra Low Emissions Zone will mean I will pay to drive my Nissan – but not my Honda – north of the south circular road, and with current public concern over the impact of vehicle emissions on air quality I would wager that the general direction of public policy in the UK in the next few years will be further in this direction, not in the direction of the abolition of such differential charges, which I see is the policy of Sutton Conservatives, but evidently not that of the Conservative party nationally.

Some residents in my Ward ask about the closure of the Brighton Road car park, six years ago. We can draw a distinction between people who are prepared to pay for parking and those not prepared to pay. If the people who park in the roads near Brighton Road were prepared to pay for parking – so might have parked in the Brighton Road car park, demolished six years ago – they could park at the Gibson Road car park, closer to the town centre, ten minutes walk from Brighton Road, which is never full.

The choice for Brighton Road is – is this site better used as the HQ of a major international company, creating 900 jobs in Sutton that would otherwise have been in Epsom, or as a half-empty car park ten minutes walk from another multi-storey car park which is never full.

My simple point on the parking strategy is this, we should consult our residents, and then do what they want us to do. It is not complicated.”

 

 

OUR “COMMUNITY WALKABOUT” AT SUTTON COURT AND BEAUCLERE HOUSE

The state of the fencing has been an issue at Sutton Court

On 31 January Trish and Richard joined residents of Sutton Court and Beauclere House on a “Community Walkabout” organised by Sutton Housing Partnership (who manage the estate) to look at problems on the estate.

In freezing weather, the group toured the estate and found a number of instances of outside pipes and overflow pipes that are leaking, fencing in need of repair, fly tipping needing to be removed and lights that are not working – or in some cases still on in broad daylight, when they need not be.

The walkabout provided opportunity to discuss the problems of the estate with senior SHP staff. The “right to buy” has reduced the number of properties occupied by social housing tenants, with just under half of the properties in Sutton Court sold off and just over half in Beauclere House. In Beauclere House over a fifth of tenants are in receipt of Universal Credit, and over a fith are in arrears. This indicates the financial problems that many face.

A community event at Sutton Court – with an inflatable

ENSURING TREES ARE REPLACED IF THEY HAVE TO BE FELLED

 

A new tree recently planted, in the Ward

Our first major success to kick off the New Year New Year was at the meeting on 10 January of the Local Committee, held at the Banstead Downs Golf Club. The main decision was to replace twelve trees in the Ward that, following a survey of the 2000 or so street trees in the Ward last year, were identified as diseased and as needing to be felled. Trish and Richard sought and obtained funding for replacement trees to be planted. These will be:

3 in Camborne Road

2 in Devonshire Avenue

1 in Effingham Close

3 in Langley Park Road

1 in The Ridgway

2 in Upland Road

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Richard’s band played carols in the St Nicholas centre before Christmas to raise money for the Mayor of Sutton’s charities

If your bin collection is missed report it at the end of the day by clicking on the “Report it” button on the Sutton Council website, www.sutton.gov.uk. However leave your bin accessible as there is a fair chance it will be collected a day late.

Real Christmas trees will be collected over the period from January 14 to 26, for “kerbside” collections on the day your brown wheelie bin is collected. Those in blocks of flats should leave the tree by the bins. Or you can take it to the dump at Kimpton Park Way.

A NEW BUS ROUTE

We have been asking local residents to have a look at this consultation by TfL.

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/lsp/56861abb/

This concerns a possible new bus route between St Helier Hospital and Epsom General Hospital, going along Brighton Road. This would be of benefit to local residents, particularly those elderly or infirm residents who do not have a car and frequently visit one of these hospitals. I am encouraging residents to respond positively to it.

A WORRYING MEETING WITH THE POLICE

Our police station in Carshalton Road

On 29 November we attended he first meeting for a long time of the Sutton South Ward Police Community Panel, held in the Parish Office at Christchurch in Christchurch Park. The summer meeting was cancelled at a late point due to it being on the evening of one of the football matches England were involved in in the World Cup. This was a meeting that left us feeling worried. An increase in crime, in burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles, was reported for the first time for some time. This may not be unrelated to problems of police numbers following the merger with Croydon and Bromley. There are a significant number of unfilled posts, vacancies, that the police are struggling to fill, particularly PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers). These officers are important for work on community relations. One member of staff is about to be moved to work in Croydon, though she did not request this move, and we are again losing our Dedicated Ward Officer, Kellie Heath. Kellie is also being moved to Croydon.

TREE PRUNING TIME AGAIN

The trees can look bare and shorn when pruned

Every four years there is a full review of all the street trees in our Ward and a pruning exercise to take down the height of the largest trees. Some trees are found to be diseased and a few have to be felled, but will be replaced.

When the trees are pruned they look bare, but the foliage will re-grow next year.

It is believed that Sutton has more street trees per yard of pavement than any other of the 32 London boroughs, with over 20 000 trees across the borough and over a thousand in our Ward. This leads, every autumn, to a big job collecting up the leaves. There is a schedule for collecting them, but the speed of doing this is directly related to the resources devoted to it. Tory Government cuts to Council funding have not helped.

This looks a bit dangerous – pruning in The Ridgway

 

CONSIDERATIONS RELATING TO TRANSPORT IN SUTTON SOUTH

 

bus

Transport for London is consulting on proposals for a new, direct and fast public transport link  service for Sutton and Merton. This consultation is called the Sutton Link and seeks views on bringing the tram to Sutton, or developing what is called a new Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) route. You can respond to the consultation at

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/sutton-link

Councillor Whitehead, the Chair of Sutton Council’s transport liaison committee, and Sutton Council officers will be meeting with TfL London Buses in the New Year to discuss how bus services can be tailored to meet future development proposals in the borough. It will also provide an opportunity to raise any issues related to any shortcomings with existing services. A similar meeting has been held in previous years but Councillor Whitehead tells us a more thorough review of outer London services is now promised by TfL.

This is an opportunity to set out views on any changes we would like to see made to services in the area, including changes to frequencies or the duration of services, or route diversions/extensions to provide missing connections.

Officers will consider how this information is presented to TfL. However, the final decision on any such changes rests with TfL and there will be limited resources available.

Local residents in Sutton South Ward have raised with us the following concerns when consulted in the recent past.

Route frequency – although residents have commented that on some routes, such as route 80, frequency and reliability is good, bus 470 is seen as too infrequent, being only about every half hour.

Similarly, route S4 could be more frequent.

A further difficulty with the 470 is that it does not run on a Sunday so our suggestions for the 470 are to increase the frequency from once every half an hour, run it on Sundays and (see below) extend it to Epsom hospital.

The X26 bus to Heathrow is used by many and the increased frequency of the X26 is welcome, but the buses have difficulty in keeping to the timetable, perhaps because of the length of the route. Some residents say they would not use it if travelling to Heathrow to catch a plane as it is not 100% reliable. There may thus be a case for increasing the frequency further.

Route length – could the 470 go to Epsom hospital rather than Epsom market as there are residents who use it to go to the hospital?

On route 151, the frequency and reliability is generally good but the service could be improved if some rush hour buses turned round at North Cheam, bearing in mind that the 213 duplicates the 151 onwards to Worcester Park.

Timetabling – it is noted that the 80 and 280 buses running northwards along Brighton Road frequently arrive at the same time. Could the timetabling be looked at?

Passenger information – it has been pointed out that the two bus stops in Mulgrave Road close to Sutton station do not include digital displays on bus arrival information. Although there are other ways of getting this information, on your mobile phone, not all passengers have the skill to get this.

A review of the information arrangements was suggested for some routes. On route 164, at some stops the bus is recorded as a minute away or due but it does not turn up for six or seven minutes.

Other matters – There has often been comment on arrangements at Sutton station. A resident suggested that congestion in Mulgrave Roadcould be alleviated by moving the taxi rank. It would be possible to move it to The Quadrant now the side entrance to the station is open, but this would probably be unpopular with the taxi drivers and railway passengers, and was not a proposal pursued under the Sutton Gateway project. A resident also commented that this part of Mulgrave Road has on occasions been briefly flooded during very heavy downpours. I have asked Council engineers to investigate.

A summary of these comments, by bus route, is:

470 – increase the frequency from once every half an hour, run it on Sundays and extend it to Epsom hospital

151 – the service could be improved if some rush hour buses turned round at North Cheam, bearing in mind that the 213 duplicates the 151 onwards to Worcester Park

80 and 280 – buses running northwards along Brighton Road frequently arrive at the same time so review the timetabling

164 – review the information arrangements as at some stops the bus is recorded as a minute away or due but it does not turn up for six or seven minutes

S1 – review the way the timetable is set out on the website

S4 – review the frequency.

It should be noted that while this summary is focussed on suggesting improvements, many residents have commented to us in favourable terms on the frequency and reliability of local bus services.

We have put this digest of views forward to officers for consideration. Any decision rests, of course, with Transport for London.