There have been a number of recent advances in our Ward, to improve the quality of life locally. First, the defibrillator newly installed in Brighton Road outside Northumberland House is a potentially important facility. There is also one at the railway station a few hundred metres north of this location.

Second, Sutton Council was delighted to be successful in obtaining funding to upgrade rail services to Belmont Station. The funding will allow train services to double from two to four trains per hour and will also facilitate improvements to the station. This will improve transport to the Cancer Hub.

Third, many new street trees have been planted in the Ward in the last year including new trees in Farm Road, Devonshire Avenue, Effingham Close, Prior Avenue and Kayemoor Road, adding to the pleasant, green, suburban feel of our Ward. Overall, we have planted almost 4 000 new trees in Sutton in a year, mostly in open spaces.


Sutton Council has declared that there is a climate emergency and at the Council meeting on 16 January we adopted a progress report entitled “Environment Strategy and Climate Emergency: Progress Report and Update.” In his speech on this important report Richard pointed out that far from being some vague affirmation of worthy sentiments the report was packed full of detailed, positive actions we had taken and could be proud of. He listed some of them

– ten new school streets

– 120 dockless ebikes (although we came quite late to the concept of ebike schemes compared to many London boroughs)

– double the number of new trees planted than our target

– seven parks received the green flag award for their biodiversity management with butterfly banks in the parks

– almost 7 000 teaching sessions on biodiversity, mostly to school age children

– the work of the Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers, the Community Environment Champions Network, the Green Enterprise partnership

– the Healthy Homes Advice and Support Service, providing assessment of homes for energy efficiency

– promoting green spaces, energy efficiency and electric vehicles through our planning policies and decisions

– LED street lighting and electric vehicle charging points in street lamps

– promoting re-cycling of waste

– the promotion of initiatives to support locations where items can be repaired and re-used

– action to deal with extreme weather events

– promoting the cycling network and cycle maintenance and safety workshops

– travel plans for our own staff to promote cycling and walking, and switching our own vehicles to electric.

The list goes on and on.

This is an important programme based on positive, practical steps we are taking to protect the environment.


The panel is our opportunity for residents to discuss with the police the policing of Sutton South Ward.

The panel met again, chaired by Raj Kondipalli, our Sutton South Ward Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, on 11 January 2023, at Christchurch hall. Constable Robyn Skivens presented data on crime levels in the Ward – in the period from 1 October there were 2 residential burglaries in our Ward. There were 32 instances of motor vehicle crime, a worrying increase, and 3 robberies. These involved theft of mobile phones and laptops. There were four instances of theft of catalytic converters. There was one instance of grievous bodily harm, though this concerned an altercation between school pupils outside Sutton station during which one sustained a minor injury. While any crime is too much crime, the data indicate that Sutton South Ward remains a low crime area by comparison to the outer London average.

The police mentioned the commitment to attend all burglaries. They mentioned some good crime prevention advice. Do not leave anything of value on show in your car. Phone the police on 101 to report something that is not an emergency. Always report all crime. Report computer scams and frauds to Action Fraud ( Parcel theft is a problem as couriers often just leave these on doorsteps. You might want to consider delivery to a locker such as those at Morrisons and close to Sutton station.

The group meets again on 19 April in the hall at Christchurch – all residents are welcome. These consultation meetings with the police are open to all local residents to attend, The next is on Wednesday 19 April, 7 pm, Christchurch hall, Christchurch Park. Are you worried about crime? Or have a view on police priorities. Please come.

Our Ward police team are based at Sutton police station in Carshalton Road


Ready for the snow



Richard, Trish and Louise have worked hard to ensure that there are plenty of grit bins at strategic places in the Ward. We need to know if they need topping up with grit. The spell of icy weather at the start of December has led to many bins being almost emptied – but that is what the grit is there for, to grit your roads and pavement when there is snow and ice.

Sutton Council again, this year, offered residents and businesses in the London Borough of Sutton the opportunity to collect 10kg of free grit per household/business. Free grit was available from the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre, Kimpton Park Way. This is always a popular service and has again been well taken up this year.



Local consultation on planning proposals is vital to maintain standards of build and design, and the street scene

Planning issues have always been a major concern in Sutton South Ward, with numerous examples of poor quality developments we have seen off but others where local democracy has been overturned by the decisions of the remote Planning Inspectorate based in Bristol.

As Liberal Democrats, we think that an effective planning system based on local consultation is essential to maintaining the quality of development in our Ward. The system has been undermined by the Government, by extension of “permitted development” rights and by new provisions that make it possible to add two storeys to the top of a block of flats by going through truncated planning approval arrangements.

There has been a growing trend for developers to try to add extra storeys to the tops of blocks of flats. We have recently seen off three such proposals in our Ward, where the proposal would have made the building look incongruous and the building work would have been a nightmare for the current residents. The first of these was a block in Mulgrave Road, which failed to meet our standards of design – not good enough for Sutton. The second was in Grange Road – Magnolia Court. The third in Brighton Road – Northumberland House.

We need more housing, but not by agreeing to buildings that will be blots on the landscape for the next fifty years.


In collaboration with HumanForest Sutton Council has launched a dockless electric bike hire scheme in the borough to provide residents and visitors with Sustainable Transport options for their journeys and to meet one of the aims of the current Sustainable Transport Strategy to increase the number of local journeys made by cycle rather than by private motor vehicle. The scheme launched on 22nd September with 120 ebikes in each borough and the potential to increase the fleet size. This is a year’s trial with the option to extend the contract for a further two years. This is a year’s trial with the option to extend the contract for a further two years.

Users register to use the scheme via the HumanForest app and receive up to 10 minutes free use each day.  Additional use time costs 17p per minute and “usage bundles” are available to reduce this. HumanForest is launching a discount scheme for NHS employees and students. 

Currently, HumanForest operates successful schemes in Islington, Hammersmith & Fulham and the City of London. We understand that Merton Borough is considering a scheme too.

Sutton’s Sustainable Transport and Commissioning team has been working with Human Forest to identify locations where dockless e-bikes are deployed (for users to collect) and where users may also finish their ride. Known as “green bays’, ebike users are not charged for parking the e-bike in a “green bay” as a way of encouraging responsible use. E-bikes parked outside of the “green bay” are charged £1.50 (even if the user is within their daily 10 minute free allowance).  Users who consistently park inconsiderately incur a penalty charge and repeat offenders may be banned from using the scheme.

Currently, all bays are on the footway and it is the borough’s intention to move some e-bike parking to the carriageway, once usage patterns become known and we receive funding from TfL. HumanForest is currently negotiating with Rail Operators and NHS trusts to use their land as “green bays” and, whilst this was not in place on the launch day, 22nd September, we are aware that the Royal Marsden has asked to host “green bays”. HumanForest is also talking to organisations representing those who may be adversely affected by inconsiderately parked ebikes e.g. Sutton Vision, Sutton Talking Newspapers, Sutton Living Streets and  Wheels for Wellbeing.

Geo-fencing technology is used to define the “green bays” and users will see them on the HumanForest app  Bays which are found to be inconvenient to residents or visitors will be removed within 5 working days although, as these are “virtual”, we anticipate that urgent requests can occur sooner.  Hire ebikes have a regulated maximum speed of 15.5 miles per hour but they can be programmed so that the motor slows in certain locations e.g. the pedestrianised sections of Sutton High Street and they can be excluded from locations where cycling is not permitted. This is work in progress which will continue during the course of the contract and we welcome resident feedback initially or during the course of the contract.

HumanForest were appointed as the supplier for the ebike hire scheme following a procurement exercise in spring 2022 for both Sutton and Kingston Councils. This is a “concession contract” and as such the boroughs do not pay the operator, who makes revenue from bike hire and “in-app” advertisements”.

Sutton Council web pages contain links to report incorrectly or inconveniently parked ebikes and this information will be continuously updated with information on the Human Forest.  


Our Mayor, Trish, reading the proclamation that King Charles has become King

We were sad to learn of the death of the Queen. A book of condolence was made available for residents to sign at the Civic Offices.

The proclamation of the accession of King Charles, repeated in each borough, was made on Sunday 11 September in Trinity Square in Sutton town centre, led by our Mayor.

Richard signing the book of condolence at the Civic centre


The winning team


On 5 May 2022 the residents of Sutton South Ward elected the three of us as their Councillors. This was the first time that all three seats on Sutton Council in Sutton South Ward have been held by the Liberal Democrats. The number of votes we polled were

Richard      1718

Trish           1691

Louise        1521

The most successful Tory was some way behind on 1434 votes, while the most successful Labour candidate only got 579 votes. We are delighted at this show of support from the local community.  


Dunsfold Court in Blackbush Close is nearby and residents already say it is difficult to find a parking space

There are two proposals for tower blocks in Brighton Road, almost opposite each other, submitted by developers, that Trish and Richard are fighting. One is on the eastern side of the road close to Cavendish Road. This proposal for a five storey block with 36 flats but only four parking spaces has been rejected by Sutton Council planning officers on a number of grounds including design. Richard said of both proposals:

“While we need more accommodation these blocks, with little adjacent green space, are of poor design and would be blots on the landscape.”

The other proposal is almost opposite at the junction with Copse Hill. Developers have twice submitted proposals for this new tower block at the corner of Copse Hill, to be built after demolishing 2 and 4 Copse Hill, plus 52 and 54 Brighton Road. While housing is needed, we have also opposed this development as – unlike Dunsfold Court and Leith Towers nearby – it would have little green space around the site, and the parking provision proposed was inadequate, adding to parking pressures in the area. The block would be ugly, overbearing and a blot on the landscape.

These proposals were rejected by Sutton Council and the developers appealed to the remote Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, thus seeking to overturn democratic local decision taking. We are delighted that the Inspectorate has twice thrown out the proposals. They cite concerns over the overbearing character and appearance of the proposed block, a lack of outdoor amenity space (play areas and garden) and the mix of housing proposed (the number of small one bedroom flats). The Inspectorate rejected concerns about flooding and did not comment on our concerns over parking.

This may not be the end of the story so we will watch out for further proposals. Radical changes to planning arrangements were proposed in the recent White Paper on planning from the Conservative Government, proposals that in some areas would abolish these arrangements for comment on planning applications and lead to proposals being automatically agreed. Pressure from the Liberal Democrats, and our victory in the Chesham and Amersham by-election, where planning changes was an issue, seems to be forcing a re-think, but these proposals are still, as of now, Government policy. These Government proposals would remove the right of local residents to comment on planning applications, in some circumstances. Richard made a speech at Sutton Council on 12 July attacking these proposals, which undermine local democracy.

The site of the proposed block, viewed from Brighton Road


Richard with the tree we got planted at White Lodge Close

We have a manifesto commitment to plant more trees, to improve air quality, combat global warming and promote the green, suburban feel of Sutton. We will be planting new trees in the next few months in Downside Road, Upland Road, Willis Avenue and Prior Avenue.

We were delighted when, in accordance with the commitment to plant more trees to combat global warming, two new trees were planted in early 2021 in The Ridgway. The story concerning the tree outside number 23 is interesting. Many years ago there was a tree pit here and a tree. The tree died. Contractors tarmaced over the tree pit. The tarmac would periodically sag. Richard suggested restoring the tree pit and planting a tree. This was done. The photo was taken during the brief fall of snow on 24 January 2021.