TWO IMPORTANT VICTORIES IN THE QUEST TO MAINTAIN THE QUALITY OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE WARD

Northumberland House viewed from Brighton Road

Trish and Richard, in their quest to maintain the quality of building in our Ward, have recently been involved in two important victories.

First, the Planning Inspectorate, have thrown out an awful application to build two houses in back garden land at 87 The Ridgway. The Inspector placed much emphasis on the incongruity of such a development in an Area of Special Local Character and commented “my assessment [is] that it would be an incongruous and alien form of development in the open rear garden environment.”

Second, last June Criterion Capital, the owners of Northumberland House, sought planning permission to add two storeys to the top of the building. Their application has been refused by Sutton Council. Northumberland House is the tower block at the corner of Brighton Road and Wellesley Road, about 200 yards along Brighton Road if you turn left when coming out of Sutton station.

Richard says “This proposal to put an extra two storeys on top of the building was hideous in terms of design. I am glad it has been thrown out.”

The owner sought planning permission to extend the building, creating a further 36 flats by having two extra storeys on the ten storey part of the building and an extra storey on the lower part, with some additional flats in the”undercroft” above the parking area. A few of the 47 parking spaces would be lost, due to a need for additional bin space.

The application was turned down on the basis of design of the proposed tower extension and the lack of window openings within some of the proposed units.

We had noted that there would be some positives, such as the creation of a community amenity and play space on the tarmaced area at ground floor level. However, while there is a shortage of accommodation in London and more housing is needed, we were concerned that the building work has the potential to be disruptive to the lives of current residents. Also, an extra two storeys on top of the building would look incongruous and clearly out of keeping with the design of the rest of the building.

Residents of Northumberland House were concerned about the likely disruption involved in this proposed work, and have long standing concerns about frequent lift breakdowns in the building, and security. We know that, Sutton Council having refused planning permission, the developer has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which, we find, often sides with developers on applications such as this. One thing we can do as local Councillors is to identify conditions that will protect the interests of residents, and that we will try to get built into any planning permission they eventually obtain. For example, we can seek to ensure there is a construction management plan to control hours of work and control noise and dust nuisance. We can ask that the contractor joins the Considerate Contractors Scheme, which provides a route for residents to raise concerns if they observe poor behaviour. We can seek conditions that will require that access to the roof areas is only by external hoists, and that the peace and quiet of the interior of the building is not disturbed or the interior turned into a storage area, or building site.

FREE SCHOOL MEALS FOR HUNGRY CHILDREN

Trish and Richard were horrified by the indifference of the Government

Trish and Richard were delighted that Sutton Council ensured children did not go hungry over the school winter holiday period by providing support for families whose children go to Sutton schools and are eligible for Free School Meals.

The provision followed on from the scheme developed for the October half term, but supported a much wider group of children, young people and families, including: 

  • children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 registered to receive free school meals at the school they attend.
  • children in Year 3 onwards from low income families receiving benefits (Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support, Child Tax Credits, Universal Credit and some other benefits).
  • children aged 2 and receiving the free childcare entitlement.
  • children aged 3 and 4 attending an early years setting and receiving the Early Years Pupil Premium.

Parents/carers of children that are registered for free school meals at their school did not need to apply – their school (whether in the London Borough of Sutton or in another Local Authority area) distributed vouchers to eligible families directly. This applied for the vast majority of pupils eligible for the voucher.

At half-term, during the autumn term, Richard and Trish were horrified that the Conservative Government refused to back Free School Meals for hungry children during the half term break. Liberal Democrat-run Sutton Council stepped in to provide Free School Meals for local children during the holidays. This new scheme, over the Christmas holidays, follows on from that earlier provision.

Footballer Marcus Rashford has spearheaded the campaign that brought national attention to children living in food poverty.  

We are disappointed that our local Conservative MP Paul Scully refused to support Free School Meals. Paul Scully callously dismissed Free School Meals on live television, claiming “Children have been going hungry under a Labour government for years”.

Local councils are under huge financial pressure across the country, with the Government only providing half the funding required to support additional COVID-19 related services. It was not true that the Council was funded to provide free school meals at half term. That funding was received back in July for families who needed extra support and had to be allocated within twelve weeks. It wasn’t nearly enough at the time and it certainly wasn’t intended to cover the cost of feeding hungry school children at half term in October. However, the Liberal Democrats in Sutton were determined to ensure no child went hungry.

PARKING PERMIT SCHEME SUPPORTED IN CONSULTATION COMES INTO OPERATION

The Sutton South Parking Permit Area came into force on Monday 30 November. The scheme had been subject to several rounds of consultation. Earlier proposals were thrown out by the residents but the scheme now implemented, after further consultation, won broad support. In the final round of consultation a majority of those responding, in every road that the scheme covers, supported the proposal, often by large majorities, as the following figures show:

Chalgrove Road – 76% support

The Ridgway – 70% support

Mayfield Road – 68% support

Upland Road – 87% support

The scheme covers, broadly, roads east of Langley Park Road as far as Banstead Road South. So Chalgrove Road, Mayfield, The Ridgway, Farm Road, Farm Close, Upland, Downside, Kayemoor, Willis Avenue and Prior Avenue. It prohibits parking in the road between 9 am and 11 am on weekdays unless you are a resident of the area and display a parking permit on your car. It means that those (including Richard) who need to park a vehicle in the road between 9 and 11 am on weekdays need to have obtained a parking permit. All residents can obtain a supply of visitors’ permits. 

It has long been recognised that clearing the parked cars from roads such as Mayfield Road will lead to speeding. This is one of the reasons why, at the same time, a six month trial of making this area a 20 mph speed limit area is underway.

Richard comments “I have lived in The Ridgway, in our Ward, for 32 years, and can remember that way back then neighbours said it was a great place to live but the parking was a problem. A few years back the Council bravely seized this nettle – I say bravely as it is a divisive and complex issue with zealots on every side of the argument. The first set of proposals were rejected by the residents but, after a lot of further study of the responses to consultation, a scheme was devised that has won widespread support. I regard this as a success for the parking consultation strategy.”

On the first morning of operation of the scheme Richard walked round the area to check that the “hats” over the signs had all been removed. There was a big sweep of enforcement officers through the area to “ticket” cars unlawfully parked, but these people just got a warning letter rather than a fine.

The scheme is subject to a six month review. We have not learned of problems with the scheme but let us know if any arise that you are aware of.

READY FOR COLD WEATHER

Ready for the snow

LET US KNOW IF THERE IS A GRIT BIN IN YOUR ROAD THAT NEEDS TOPPING UP.

Richard and Trish have worked hard to ensure that there are plenty of grit bins at strategic places in the Wards. We need to know if they need topping up with grit.

Yet again this year Sutton Council offered residents and businesses 10kg of free grit per household/business to collect from Denmark Road Car Park, Carshalton. This year a booking system and a number of other changes had to be introduced to help the operation run safely and in accordance with Government guidelines designed to contain the spread of COVID-19. Anyone visiting had to have a valid booking to be allowed access to the site.  

Residents could also collect grit for elderly friends and neighbours or others who don’t have cars. 

LET US KNOW IF THERE IS A GRIT BIN NEAR YOU THAT NEEDS TOPPING UP.

REMEMBERING THE FALLEN IN WAR

pond and memorial straight

On Remembrance Sunday, November 8, Trish – our Mayor – led the brief service at the war memorial at Carshalton ponds, to remember the fallen. Due to the COVID restrictions, the traditional service was kept very brief this year.

Richard attended the service and laid a wreath.

Sadly, the event normally held in Manor Park, at which Richard played the Last Post last year, was called off due to the COVID restrictions.

CLEARING UP THE LEAVES

Every year, in the autumn, residents contact us to enquire about the leaf clearing programme. Each year the Council has a leaf clearing programme in place, where a team is deployed to all roads/streets that suffer from significant leaf fall. No Council can keep every road entirely free of leaves during the autumn leaf fall period, as resources are not unlimited. However, there is a programme that will, over a period, gradually clear away the fallen leaves.

As part of the South London Waste Partnership contract with Veolia, dedicated resources are provided for leafing, in support of the core street cleaning service. The operation is in two parts.  

First, throughout the borough leaves should be cleared by beat sweepers as they break down and start to lose their shape and structure.  Gully grates should also be kept clear, by beat sweepers, to help minimise surface water runoff and drainage.  Second, the dedicated Veolia team will work to clear leaves throughout the borough, aiming to ensure they do not become hazardous to road users and pedestrians, turning into detritus and blocking road-side gullies with danger of flooding.  If there are particular streets that residents feel need to be addressed more urgently, we ask that this is done through the Report It function on the Council website.

Commencement of the dedicated resource is a joint decision with Veolia and is based on the level of leaf fall and forecast weather conditions. The leaf fall programme is likely to start in the first week of November.  There is an operational document that schedules which roads will be visited by the dedicated leafing team and when.  As with all operational documents, and particularly with leafing, those involved have to be prepared to respond to weather conditions, to locations where demand and need is greatest, taking decisions on the basis of available resources. This means that the schedule is being constantly reviewed. 

If residents or a community/resident group would like to get involved in clearing leaves from streets or communal areas please contact Council officers. Simply complete our Community Clean-Up Event Form with a few details. We can provide bags for use and will arrange for them to be collected from a pre-arranged location.

Leaves from residents own property can be disposed through our paid for Garden Waste service or taken free of charge to the reuse and recycling centre at Kimpton Park Way, Sutton SM3 9QH.   Alternatively, a garden composting bin could be used.

Residents should not sweep leaves from their own property into the road.

SCHOOL STREET AT OVERTON GRANGE SCHOOL

Trish and Richard at the school

Students returning to school at the start of the 2020 autumn term at Overton Grange enjoyed a quieter and safer atmosphere due to the introduction of a “school street” at the gates in Stanley Road at the time students arrived and left for the school day. This involved the closure of the part of Stanley Road adjacent to the school for a short period in the morning and afternoon, when the school day starts and ends.

The objectives of school streets are:

1) To improve safety around the school at start and finish time

2) To improve air quality for children outside their school gates (small people are particularly vulnerable to emissions from cars)

3) To create a more welcoming atmosphere around the school, where children can walk in the road and parents can feel more relaxed.

The scheme was a six month trial funded by Transport for London, who set the parameters of the scheme. The scheme was withdrawn in advance of the conclusion of the six month trial following a legal challenge to the lawfulness of such schemes, but by then it was proposed to withdraw the scheme. This related to difficulties experienced in enforcing the traffic controls, which at successful “school street” schemes involved the participation of the school and parents.

MAINTAINING THE “NO DRINKING ZONE” IN OUR WARD

The “No Drinking Zone” was extended south from Sutton town centre

When Richard was first elected in 2010 one of the first projects he initiated was to get the “No Drinking Zone” in the centre of Sutton extended to our Ward. There were a group of what the police termed “all day drinkers” who used to congregate on Cedar Road outside Forest Dene Court.

The zone was extended to cover the area of our Ward south of the station as far as Cavendish Road, and running west to east from Brighton Road to Langley Park Road. In this area it is unlawful to continue to drink alcohol if asked by the police to stop, and there are provisions that would enable the police to confiscate alcohol. You will find reminders of the provisions attached to lampposts in the area, for example in Cedar Road.

The Council has, by law, to re-consider and consult afresh on these provisions from time to time. It is doing so at present. You can comment or make representations on the proposal to maintain these provisions. Representations must be made in writing and addressed to Safer Sutton Partnership Service, Environment, Housing and Regeneration Directorate, Sutton Police Station, 6 Carshalton Road, Sutton, SM1 4RF, before 21st September 2020. You need to state the grounds on which your representation or objection is made.

If you have any questions about this consultation, you can contact the Safer Sutton Partnership Team via email at safersutton@sutton.gov.uk

CREATING QUIET NEIGHBOURHOODS

The reduction in traffic in our residential roads at the height of the lockdown brought quiet, clean air, blue skies and a wish to preserve the pleasant environment it created. We have obtained, from schemes established by the Government and the London Mayor to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, funding for plans to maintain these advances. The schemes are trials and will be monitored throughout the initial six months. Normally the Council would consult extensively before their introduction but the offer of funding is for immediate action following emergence from lockdown, so the measures will be introduced and monitored to assess resident reaction and their impact. The principal proposals include, in our Ward:

* The Permit Parking Area (PPA) planned for roads from Mayfield Road running east as far as Banstead Road South, which residents strongly supported in consultation exercises, will be introduced from 30 November. This should reduce traffic and parking in this area

* An extension of the 20 mph speed limit area in Langley Park Road to roads to the east, as far as Banstead Road South, has been introduced. This includes the part of the Ward where a PPA is to be introduced, so the reduced parking will lead to speeding, which has to be dealt with to maintain the peace and quiet of these residential roads

* An experimental “modal filter” (allowing cyclists and pedestrians to cross but not other vehicles) to reduce traffic rat running north to south through the area, at Kings Lane, has been introduced. This will be subject to assessment after introduction and maintained if there is resident support. The impact on traffic in Langley Park Road and other local roads will be monitored. A proposal for a second filter, in Langley Park Road, remains in the programme but will not be implemented while Sutton Court Road is closed at the west end, and will be subject to review in the light of an assessment of the impact on traffic in the area from the Kings Lane filter

* A“school street” at Overton Grange school to deal with traffic at the school gates has been implemented, closing the road where the school is situated to traffic when school students are arriving and leaving, so they can do so in safety and quiet. This involves the closure of Stanley Road south of the junction with Camborne Road when Overton Grange students are arriving and leaving.

These improvements will help maintain the peace of the quiet residential roads in our Ward, improve air quality, make the area more pleasant for walking and cycling, and benefit the neighbourhood. We hope to create a neighbourhood with less noise, less non-residential traffic, less speeding, cleaner air and a safer and more pleasant environment, promoting walking and cycling.

The proposals also respond to the many of the concerns raised by residents in the survey last year supporting the Council’s Liveable Neighbourhoods bid to the Mayor of London. These were:

1. Too much rat-running traffic
2. A wish for more trees, plants, greenery
3. A need for improvement to air-quality
4. A need for slower vehicle speeds on residential roads
5. More pedestrian crossings on main roads
6. More welcoming streets for walking
7. More welcoming streets for cycling

We will be monitoring closely the impact of these measures and traffic levels were monitored in local streets in August. Normally the Council would consult extensively before their introduction but the offer of funding is for immediate action following emergence from lockdown, so the measures will be introduced and monitored to assess resident reaction and their impact. If, after the initial experimental six month period, the Council was minded to retain the schemes on a permanent basis there would be full resident consultation on a traffic management order.

On the criteria for evaluation of the temporary schemes, this is what TfL are asking us to use.

We will look at a range of factors when considering whether or not to make a temporary scheme permanent. These include the:

  • Effects the scheme has had and could continue to have on road safety and pedestrian overcrowding
  • Number of cyclists and pedestrians who have used each scheme
  • Contribution each scheme makes to the look and feel of the local area
  • Impact of the scheme on traffic, including the bus network
  • Feedback from the public and other stakeholders
  • Impact of the scheme on people protected under the Equality Act 2010

By way of background, the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods scheme was set up by the Conservative Government in consultation with the Labour London Mayor.  A total of 859 schemes are being trialled across London for six months from September, and the rules for these schemes were set up by Central Government at very short notice. The Government asked for bids from every London Borough in mid May that had to be made within just a month, by 22nd June, which is not ideal. 

The choice of areas was based on past requests to Local Committees, suggestions made by residents, and proposals previously made under the Transport for London (TfL) Liveable Neighbourhoods bid. 

The Department for Transport advise that the six months long trials of the temporary schemes will enable further consultation if it is intended to make any of the schemes permanent. The benefit of a trial is that one can see if a scheme works or does not work, or can be improved. Where these schemes have been set up elsewhere in London they have often proved popular with residents.

In normal non- Covid times, we would have expected longer notice of bidding for schemes to allow for public consultation but the Government did not allow the usual process (which normally takes some months), on this occasion, as the timescale was telescoped into a very short one, of one month only.   

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Trish, our Mayor, addresses a vast but socially distanced crowd at the Black Lives Matter event

On 20 June Trish and Richard attended an event at the open space opposite St Helier hospital to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

It was difficult to estimate the size of the crowd as it was spread out over a vast area to ensure social distancing. The police attended to ensure social distancing was observed, which it was. Trish made an excellent and impassioned speech, as did her daughter Lauren. Lauren told us that the previous day she had submitted, as part of her University course, a dissertation on mental illness in prisons. A finding had been that BAME prisoners were much more likely to be affected. Councillor Dombey also spoke.