GOING GREEN TO SAVE THE SMALL BLUE



Residents are being urged to use their green-fingered skills to help save a tiny endangered butterfly.

The Small Blue is one of the UK’s rarest butterflies and in London is only established in a few locations, including in an area of Sutton.

As its name suggests, it is Britain’s smallest resident butterfly with a wing span that can be as little as 16mm. But numbers have plummeted in recent years due to the loss of chalk grassland habitats.

Now householders in Sutton South are being encouraged to save the Small Blue by growing kidney vetch, one of the main plants on which the butterflies feed and breed.

Kidney vetch only flourishes on poor nutrient, alkaline soils.

Cllr Heather Honour, one of the local ward councillors on Sutton Council, said: “We want local people to get involved and help save this beautiful butterfly. They can grow kidney vetch in their gardens or allotments, and we hope local landlords and businesses will also plant it on their land.

“The response from residents so far has been excellent, with a large number of people, children from the local primary school and several local organisations saying they want to help. Together we can help the Small Blue to thrive.”

The call to help protect the butterfly came as plans were announced to build
a small climbing frame for young children in the Devonshire Avenue Local Nature Area.

Environmental campaigners feared the climbing frame could pose a risk to the Small Blue, whose habitat is in the area.

Cllr Honour said: “There are currently no playgrounds anywhere else in the ward, which is an area where 50 per cent of homes do not have a back garden. Hopefully this is a solution which will help both the butterflies and our young people to flourish.”

Hendryk Jurk, biodiversity manager at Sutton Council, said: “Kidney vetch is a reasonably easy plant to grow and can be cultivated in people’s back gardens, though it does need to be properly maintained.”

Residents will be able to learn more about the butterfly and growing kidney vetch at an event at the site on June 25.

To get involved contact Cllr Honour at heather.honour@sutton.gov.uk

Watch this website for details of the Sutton South Butterfly Watch Devonshire Avenue Nature Area  June 25th 12 noon



DEMOGRAPHIC TIMEBOMB

 

Current funding on social care will be under pressure as the older population of  Sutton increases.  This was the message last night, Monday 7th March, from Councillor Heather Honour speaking at the Council debate on the budget.

She said that it was good news that people were living longer.  But over the next 20 years the population of those over 65 years would grow by 50 per cent, that the number of people over 90 would treble and the number of people with learning disability of working age would grow by 30 per cent.

They would need support from the state and from their families in managing their personal care and everyday living, social care in other words.

“This is relevant to us today in our debate on a budget where Eric Pickles has reduced our formula grant by 13.3 per cent.  I have been told that were it not for the additional £2billion allocated by the government for social care across the country, the reduction in our grant would have been 17 per cent.  Set this against the research published by the Dilnot Commission on Future Funding of Care and Support that carers were willing to contribute an extra 13 per cent of their time to care for their loved ones but the need for care would grow by 55 per cent.”

She said” As we go forward we will need to preserve and develop the services that keep us fit and healthy, prevention as it is called.  An example is the chair based exercise class organised by Age Concern at Granfers Hall.  This was a lifeline for my late mother giving her confidence to go out and the opportunity to meet people in a similar situation to her”.

The personalisation agenda, giving everyone receiving social care an individual budget, would be better value as individuals chose the services that suit them.  But the Council would need to make  sure that people had easy access to the information they needed.  What’s more the council would need to make sure that the services were out there in the community.  Sutton’s partnership approach would be invaluable whether it is with the voluntary sector or the private sector.

SUTTON TORIES ARE “NEW LUDDITES” CLAIMS COUNCILLOR CLIFTON

 Sutton’s Tories are “the new Luddites”, opposing new technology and innovation that will save Sutton residents millions of pounds. This was the charge made by Councillor Richard Clifton at the Sutton Council meeting on 7 March.

The Tories oppose a plan to close four offices the Council does not need, a reduction in office space achieved by moving staff to a more efficient way of working that involves “hot desking” and the use of new technology.

Councillor Clifton – who works for an organisation that that made this move and himself “hot desks” – claims that the new system of office organisation saves millions of pounds as it reduces the need for office space, enables you to close unwanted office buildings, and is a more efficient way of working. “Hot desking” involves using new technology (remote access email, mobile phones, Blackberries etc) so that people can work remotely, from home or while “out and about” on Council business, part of the time. They do not have their own desk in the office but use any desk that is free on the days they need to go to the office.

This innovation, which many businesses have implemented to cut costs, will enable the Council to close offices and save money. Some up-front costs are involved to invest in the technology and re-organise the office so people can “hot desk”. But Councillor Clifton argues that in the long run it saves millions of pounds, from reduced need for buildings and because it is a more efficient way of working.

An “Outline Business Case” showed a minimum saving of at least a quarter of a million pounds per year, but Councillor Clifton told the Council meeting that his own experience of more flexible ways of working suggests the savings are under-estimated and there are huge savings to be made in the long term.

Underlying this dispute is a more fundamental issue about social change in Britain. Councillor Clifton pointed out that new technology that enables people to work remotely is changing the way we work. The traditional model of office work, where all the work is done between 9 and 5 in a building that people commute for hours to reach, is disappearing. This is due to a combination of new technology and changing social attitudes as people seek the efficiencies and flexibility in work patterns that the new technology makes possible.

“The Tories in Sutton are totally out of touch with the realities of modern industrial organisation,”

said Councillor Clifton. “They would shackle us to a disappearing model of the organisation of work that would force us to keep open buildings we do not need, reduce staff efficiency, and cost us a packet of money. They are the new Luddites.”

[NOTE: the Conservative Councillors opposed further work on the project, even though the business case showed, at this point, savings. Later work suggested uncertainty about the figures and, in accordance with our commitment to evidence-based policies, the project was ultimately dropped. ]

ACTION BY LIBERAL DEMOCRAT COUNCILLORS TO GET NEW TREES PLANTED IN COPSE HILL

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[ Councillor Clifton examines the tree planted outside 22 Copse Hill ]

When we were first elected in May 2010, one of our first pieces of casework concerned residents in Copse Hill who pointed out to us that two street trees – outside numbers 6 and 22 – had been lost as a result of road traffic accidents. In each case a car had collided with the tree and this had led to the tree being lost. One could see the ugly patch of brown earth left in the grass verge, where the tree had once been. Further investigation revealed that there had been a similar incident in Effingham Close leading to the loss of a tree.

Councillor Clifton persuaded Sutton’s chief arborculturalist, Ben Morris, to visit Copse Hill with him. It has taken a little while but in January new trees were planted to replace those lost in Copse Hill, in the exact same places as the trees that were lost, while two new trees have been planted outside 18 and 34 Efingham Close.

Councillor Clifton has appealed to residents of the roads to ensure the young trees are watered in dry weather.

While assisting residents in Copse Hill, our attention was drawn to the potential problem of the flooding of the road in periods of very heavy rain, as the water flows down Effingham Close to the bottom of the hill. After discussion with engineers in the Highways Department, action was taken to install a new drain gully at the foot of the hill. We hope this has resolved the problem of the flow of water down the hill. There remains a more minor problem with the puddles outside numbers 2 to 10 Copse Hill. Gerry McLaughlin of the Highways Department is shown here marking out changes to the gulleys. There will be a programme of cleaning out the soakaways over the summer and it is hoped that this problem is resolved.

Councillor Clifton visits Copse Hill for a discussion with Gerry McLaughlin.

MORE PLAY FACILITIES FOR SUTTON SOUTH CHILDREN

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[ The entrance to the nature reserve in Devonshire Avenue, the only area of open space in Sutton South Ward ]

Liberal Democrat and Conservative Councillors in Sutton South united, on the evening of 27 January, to improve facilities for local children in the Ward.

Members of the South Sutton, Belmont and Cheam Local Committee agreed to the installation of a small, environmentally-friendly climbing frame for small children in the nature reserve in Devonshire Avenue.

Firty per-cent of children attending Devonshire Avenue primary school, next to the reserve, live in accommodation where they have no access to a garden for play. This piece of equipment will add to the fun of the local area, without, in the opinion of local Councillors, being of a size or on a scale that will have an unacceptable environmental impact on the nature reserve. The Headmaster of the school has indicated his support for this project.

Councillors have agreed to work with local environmentalists to encourage the proliferation of the small blue butterfly, sometimes found on the site.

“This is a good start to improving play facilities for children in Sutton South Ward” said Councillor Honour. “We really do need to take seriously the lack of open spaces in our Ward.”

Councillor Clifton added “Another good outcome from this discussion of the nature reserve is that both Councillor Honour and I will be examining whether there are ways of drawing on the enthusiasm of local gardeners to seek to improve the natural habitat of the small blue butterfly, which is sometimes found at the reserve.”

ACTION BY LIBERAL DEMOCRAT COUNCILLORS LEADS TO EXTENSION OF “NO DRINKING” ZONE TO OUR WARD

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[ The corner of Cedar Road and Brighton Road, where drinkers sometimes congregate. This picture shows Sutherland House – it is hoped that the seat outside Sutherland House can be restored if the problems associated with public drinking in this area can be dealt with ]

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Sutton Council has extended what is popularly called the “No Drinking” zone to our Ward.

Even before we were elected, we were aware of the concerns of local residents and the problems of anti-social behaviour associated with a group of what are sometimes called “all day drinkers”. These people often congregated at the Brighton Road / Cedar Road intersection. 

Following a number of discussions that we, as Ward Councillors, had with the Council Executive member responsible for public order matters, Councillor Graham Tope, the Council has taken steps in a policy direction that we have advocated, to deal with the problem.

At present, the town centre in Sutton is a “Designated Public Place” – popularly called a “No Drinking” zone.  An effect is that the group of people who drink on the street for much of the day congregated just outside the zone, in particular at the street corner at the end of Cedar Road where it meets the Brighton Road. This is close to Forest Dene Court, a large block of flats for elderly people, some of whom have expressed to us their concern about this group of drinkers. Now, the Council has extended the zone to cover an area of Sutton South Ward.

The area covered is a square bordered by Cedar Road, Langley Park Road, Egmont Road and the Brighton Road. The police were able to provide evidence of anti-social behaviour associated with drinking to justify including this area in the zone. Now the zone is extended to this area, the police will monitor the effect. If the problem is simply displaced to a different area, consideration can be given to a further extension.  

The legal effect of the Designated Public Places Order is that if someone is drinking alcohol in public in this area the police can ask them to stop. If they do not stop, they are guilty of an offence.

The designation of the Sutton South zone was subject to public consultation. Statutory notices were placed in newspapers and on relevant websites on 11 January. Representations could be made during the consultation period, which ended on 7 February. A second statutory notice was published. The order came into force on 15 March 2011.

As your local Councillors, we are delighted with these developments, which we have pressed for, with the Council. We have had the support of the local police and the Sutton South police consultative committee (whose activities are reported elsewhere on this website, on the page on police matters). As a result of this development the police will be able to spend less time dealing with the anti-social behaviour associated with public drinking and spend more time on their two other priorities for our Ward, car crime and drug dealing.

When the results of the new measures are clear, we hope it will then be possible to restore the seat outside Sutherland House, which was removed as it became associated with public order problems caused by this group of people.

THE SNOW, THE GRIT – AND THE POTHOLES

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Periods of cold weather and snow inevitably bring a rash of potholes in the roads throughout the Ward.

If there is a pothole in your road, please contact us at the addresses given on this website and we will follow up with the Council to get it in the queue to be fixed. Use the “Report a Problem” button on the website or email us at the address given on the banner at the top of the website. 

During the period of cold weather and snowfall, we were contacted by many people in the Ward seeking assistance.

We were contacted by a resident in Rutherford Close who commented on the icy state of the pavements in Rutherford Close and in Cumnor Road, as they had to walk the length of Cumnor Road to get a bus in Langley Park Road. We contacted the gritting team who left a pile of grit at each end of Cumnor Road. We went round to Cumnor Road and ourselves distributed grit along the pavements, including gritting the road at the Cumnor Road / Rutherford Close intersection, a part of Wellesley Road and most of Rutherford Close. We were assisted by Courtney and Curtis Sampson of Cumnor Road, to whom we extend thanks.

The Council does not have the resources to clear or grit all the pavements in the Borough. After each fall of snow priority is given to pavements outside hospitals, GP surgeries and schools, and care homes. Responding to requests we made, the pavement outside Fiske Court (a large care home in Cavendish Road) was partly cleared, and Councillor Clifton himself cleared a further stretch of the pavement, in response to a request from a resident. It is worth noting that, if there is more snow before the winter ends, if people clear a path outside their own house it will dry off during the periods of thaw when the temperature gets above freezing, and this will leave the pavement clear of ice. Which is why we encourage people to do this.

The new grit bins in the Ward have been of value but were rapidly emptied. The gritting teams are continuing to fill them up but they are emptied again almost as soon as they are filled. Which, of course, means they are being used for their intended purpose. Most of the bins in the Ward were re-filled in the period immediately after Christmas.

Residents of Downside Road have commented to us that the new bin, installed at the request of Councilor Clifton, in the middle of the hill, outside number 31, has been of great value and helped them keep the road open during the snow. This supplements the bins at the top and bottom of the hill.

MORE CAR CLUB PARKING BAYS IN SUTTON SOUTH WARD

We are both enthusiastic supporters of the objective to make Sutton a cleaner and greener Borough. Car clubs have a role to play.

Car clubs form an important element in our local sustainable transport policies. The car club “Streetcar” has proven popular in Sutton since it was launched three years ago. It now has more than 800 members in Sutton and wishes to expand further with new bays and cars.

Click on this link to find out more about Streetcar.

We have supported the installation of an additional car club bay in Albion Road, in Sutton South Ward. This would involve a change of use in respect of a bay that is currently for “pay and display” parking, but which is not occupied for that purpose very often as there are enough other bays in the road. It was proposed that, subject to consultation, this bay would be reserved for a car club car that members of the club can use. The proposal is currently “on hold” due to issues concerned with Streetcar, but we hope it will be returned to in due course.

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[ The bay in Albion Road ]

EXPANDING POPULAR LOCAL SCHOOLS

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Heather and Richard visiting Devonshire Avenue school

EXPANDING POPULAR LOCAL SCHOOLS

Sutton Council has taken an important decision to expand Devonshire Avenue and Barrow Hedges primary schools, in the light of demographic pressures in the Borough.  

This is good news for parents of young children in Sutton South ward, as more Sutton South parents will be able to get their children into these popular and often oversubscribed schools. Heather and Richard have met the headteachers of both schools to discuss the consequences for local people and the management of the process, recognising the concerns of some parents at Barrow Hedges about possible detrimental effects, such as on parking.

Both headteachers have assured us that they see benefits for the schools from the expansion. 

Barrow Hedges school usually has about 300 applications for places each year – more applicants are turned away than get in to the school. Up to 2008 Barrow Hedges school had an intake of 60 children per year. Since then it has been 90 and the proposal is to stick to this number. When only 60 children were admitted you usually had to live within 600 metres of the school to get in, so only parents in a few roads at the east end of Sutton South ward could get their children into this school. The expansion will mean more Sutton South children get into the school.

More parents in Sutton South Ward send their children to Devonshire Avenue school, and the expansion of this school, with associated improvements to its facilities, is also to be welcomed. 

This is good news for Sutton South.

COUNCILLOR CLIFTON “DISAPPOINTED” AS CAMPAIGN TO SAVE WALLINGTON MAGISTRATES’ COURT FAILS

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[ Sutton Magistrates’ Court, in Wallington – click on any of the pictures on this site to see them full size ]

“The certainty of justice and the visibility of justice is eroded if justice is not sufficiently local.”

This was the message given by Councillor Richard Clifton, in his maiden speech since being elected to Sutton Council, on 6 December, when he called on the Ministry of Justice to re-think the proposal it has recently floated to close the only Magistrates’ Court House in Sutton, in Wallington.

Councillor Clifton stressed that important decisions that affect redress, justice and even people’s liberty will be taken on the basis of poorer evidence if people – including the victims of crime and witnesses to crime – are deterred from attending Court by the distance they have to travel.

He stressed two particular consequences:

– cases are lost because key witnesses do not show up

– magistrates from Sutton have a detailed and personal knowledge of the pertinent local issues, helpful in understanding a case such as a road traffic case, and this will be lost.

He was responding to a challenge by Tory Councillors to justify a statement in a motion presented to Council by Liberal Democrat Councillors, that the proposed closure would have an “inevitably damaging effect.”  The motion was eventually carried unanimously.

 

However, despite forceful lobbying and representations by local groups, the Ministry of Justice has now announced the planned closure of the Court house. Councillor Clifton said “I called for the campaign to continue as I felt the arguments were on our side. I am disappointed that the campaign has not come to a successful conclusion.”