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.
On 24 January Richard attended the meeting of Sutton Council’s Licensing Committee and spoke to the Committee about the new licence application submitted by the Noor Jahan Tandoori bar, at 10 Station Parade, Sutton, just south of Sutton station on the Brighton Road.
The bar has a current Premises Licence to sell food and drink, but wanted to extend the hours of trading to 02:30 hours, to sell alcohol and food. Therefore, instead of varying the existing licence, they submitted a new application.
Applicants for licences are required to stipulate how they will promote the licensing objectives of:
- Prevention of crime and disorder
- Protection of children from harm
- Public safety
- Prevention of public nuisance.
The bar is in an area where special considerations apply and applicants have to demonstrate to a high standard how they comply with and promote these objectives. The bar is in a well populated residential area. We had doubts about it continuing to sell alcohol till 2.30am, even though this would be to people consuming food, as there could be noise problems for local residents in the wee small hours when it closes.
We sought the views of residents before commenting. A significant number of residents wrote expressing concern so Richard registered an objection to ensure the application was considered by the Licensing Committee.
The decision of the Committee was to restrict the hours of opening, so the bar will not stay open till 2.30 am.
After a long consultation, to which the Council contributed, the Mayor of London has announced the closure of counter services at a swathe of police stations across London. We campaigned to save the service at Sutton station, and we have been successful.
Sadly, the counter service at Worcester Park station is to close. Shame on you, Sadiq Khan!
Although Sutton borough has one of the lowest crime rates in London – and Sutton South Ward is among the Wards with the lowest crime rates in the borough – we must never be complacent.
We take part in regular consultation meetings with the police to discuss crime trends and priorities for police action in our Ward, and on Tuesday 31 October we met the police at Christchurch hall in Christchurch Park.
Our new Dedicated Ward Officer, PC Kellie Heath, is fitting in to her role and has been very active in meeting local community groups. Although the revised policing model promised by Borough Commander Mark Lawrence promises two Dedicated Ward Officers, supported by a PCSO, by the end of 2017, Kellie is at the moment something of a one woman band.
We were delighted that Frank Berry, who lives in Christchurch Park and was formerly chair of the Sutton Federation of Residents and Tenants’ Associations has agreed to chair future meetings.
The meeting ran through the crime statistics for the last three months. A theme in the four burglaries from houses was windows left open, and in motor vehicle crime carelessness about locking vehicles and leaving SatNavs on display inside the car. Other themes discussed at the meeting were incidents of rough sleeping in stairwells of blocks of flats. The meeting agreed that police priorities should continue to be burglary, anti-social behaviour and speeding.
This consultation meeting was much better attended than recent meetings in this series so our efforts at publicity are bearing fruit.
Sutton is renowned for low crime and good schools. Like all London boroughs we have had to deal with the bulge in pupil numbers. This has gone through the primary school system and our excellent local primary schools in this area have been able to cope, with most parents still getting their first choice of school. Many secondary schools in Sutton have expanded, including our popular local school Overton Grange, but two new secondary schools will still be needed and are planned. The new Harris Academy, integrated into the Sutton Cancer Hub development, is already proving popular with parents who plan to apply for places next year. Parents can be reassured that Sutton will be able to cope with the increased numbers without a fall in the high quality of local education or unacceptable congestion problems at the schools, which the schools have plans in place to cope with.
At the South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee meeting on 7 September our main decision was to install a vehicle operated sign in Farm Road to reduce speeding. Richard lives round the corner from Farm Road and vehicles certainly speed down it. This complements other measures in the Ward to reduce speeding, in particular in Cavendish Road and Cedar Road.
We also agreed to install a width restriction at the point in Grange Vale where the road passes under the bridge. The speed of vehicles has a safety implication for pedestrians walking west to east on the narrow pathway, particularly if pushing a buggy. We also agreed to plant a replacement for the vandalised tree in Willis Avenue. The committee also agreed Richard’s proposal to purchase from the Royal British Legion a “Silent Soldier” and install it in the flower beds in front of Northumberland House. These are large silhouettes of soldiers, designed to be installed through 2018 in prominent places to remind us that this is the centenary of the conclusion of the Great War.
We hope the parking consultation will now take place much earlier than anticipated.
Trish and Richard attended the Ward police consultative committee meeting on 10 January. The police again reported that crime in our area remains low.
In the final quarter of 2016 there were 3 residential burglaries in our Ward (down from 6 in the corresponding period a year previously), 3 non-residential burglaries (down from 7), 7 thefts from motor vehicles (down from 12) and 2 thefts of motor bikes.
The police had executed a number of drug searches in the last quarter, which they felt had had a positive impact. Priorities continue to include drugs, looking out for rough sleepers in stairwells of blocks of flats, anti-social behaviour at bus stops, speeding checks and aggressive begging around Sutton station.
The police consultative panel next meets at Christchurch hall in Christchurch Park on 9 May. This is a public meeting. See if you can come.
There were several “Speedwatch” events in the last quarter, some involving students from Overton Grange school, using a speed gun to catch and warn speeding motorists.
Residents have started to move in to the the block in the Brighton Road just south of Sutton station that we all knew as Sutherland House but which now has a new name – Northumberland House. Perhaps the owners changed the name as – after it being empty for five years – they want to signal a new beginning for this building. They have spent money on the renovation and certainly improved the way it looks, as the pictures above show.
The apartments in the block, a few hundred yards south of Sutton station and in our Ward, are available to rent. The Acorn Group are in charge of renting out the flats. If anyone is interested in renting they can contact Kimberley Ellen (firstname.lastname@example.org or ring her 020 8315 6917). The flats are also advertised on the website Rightmove.
On 14 January Richard visited the block. It has been refurbished to a high standard and it is good to see it occupied. There are 128 flats with parking spaces.
As long ago as December 2015 we met with Council officers and the developer to discuss renovation of the front, to fit in with the Gateway scheme further north. We have sought agreement that the owners fund the renovation of the area in front of the building, to bring it up to the same standard as the area renovated during the “Gateway” project just to the north. The shops at the bottom are not fully let out and we have hopes that the area just south of the station will include of a mix of good restaurants, shops and maybe a wine bar as the area will have so much more footfall. We are pleased that the Rose cafe and Sofra are surviving. We look forward to the area in front of the building being renewed and improved in due course and the vacant shops let out. However Sainsburys have pulled out of opening a store at the bottom.
The area has in the past suffered from a group of “all day drinkers” who walk the streets drinking alcohol from cans. However, one of Richard’s first acts when elected in 2010 was to get the “no drinking” zone extended from Sutton town centre into Sutton South Ward. This makes it unlawful to drink alcohol in public in the area if a police officer asks you to stop.
Sutton South Ward has one of the lowest crime levels in London, but we cannot be complacent and need to take the simple precautions necessary to avoid making life easy for the criminal.
We are well served by our local police, and we meet them regularly to assess crime trends in the Ward. There are many blocks of flats in the Ward and recently there have been a small number of incidents reported to us of rough sleepers spending the night in stairwells.
The problem of homelessness has, of course, increased recently due to Government housing policies. We have been involved in discussions with housing managers and the police about precautions such as entryphone systems and sought to help local groups that are trying to deal with the problem of homelessness and rough sleeping. If you observe rough sleepers in stairwells it is best to contact the police on the non-emergency 101 number. They can also be directed to sources of advice such as the Salvation Army (02086429862), Shelter (02034686293) and the Sutton Civic offices (02087705800).