honeywood event

On 26 March the Sutton South Hello! Thursday afternoon group launched a major exhibition of their work at the Council’s historic museum Honeywood, in Carshalton. The launch was well attended and our picture shows Heather Honour with the Mayor of Sutton, Councillor Arthur Hookway, the Care Minister Norman Lamb MP (who launched the Hello! project on 9 May 2012, see below) and local MP Paul Burstow.

Sutton Community Awards 2015

Sutton Community Awards 2015

On 24 February 2015 Sutton South Hello! received an award in the Sutton Community Awards annual awards ceremony. This was in the “Community Spirit” category for actions that have brought the community together through community events. The photo shows the Hello! team with the certificate. Left to right the Hello! team who came up to collect the award are Colin Iddles (chair of South Sutton Neighbourhood Association), Gerry Benworth (Skill), Fran Wilson (secretary of the Hello! board), Heather Honour (Chair and Founder), Nedal Ali, Councillor Nali Patel.

South Sutton Hello! is the brainchild of our former Liberal Democrat Councillor Heather Honour, an initiative to combat loneliness and isolation. It is supported by major local charities like AgeUK, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Sutton Mental Health Foundation, and local residents’ Associations such as the South Sutton Neighbourhood Association and the Highfields Residents’ Association. Heather chairs the Board and has been the driving force behind the project.

It was launched at Christchurch, in Christchurch Park, on 9 May 2012 by the Care Minister, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, and is intended to be a pilot for similar initiatives elsewhere. There are now similar Hello! clubs elsewhere in Sutton, such as Worcester Park.

hello launch

Sutton South Ward was chosen as, on the basis Campaign to End Social Isolation toolkit, it is a ward where the risk of social isolation is particularly high:

–         the Ward has the highest proportion of over 65’s of any Ward in Sutton

–         the proportion over 85 is double the Sutton and national average

–         there are a large number of people living in sheltered accommodation for the elderly or in single occupancy flats

–         over three quarters of residents live in purpose-built blocks of flats

–         almost half of all households are single person households

–         but a quarter of residents in the Ward say they regularly volunteer in some capacity, so there is a high level of community activism.

The project has drawn together a listing of the various community initiatives in Sutton South, particularly those run by the churches and AgeUK. It has produced newsletters. There are a number of specific activities it has promoted, in particular the Wednesday “Hello Club” at Christchurch and a Thursday club on craft activities. The project has been aided in setting up these activities by SCILL (Sutton Centre for Independent Living and Learning) and AgeUK

AgeUK has assisted with the organisation of chair based exercises. Councillor Nali Patel often attends and forms a link with the Sutton and Surrey Senior Citizens Club, which meets at the Thomas Wall Centre and is in particular a friendship club for Asians living in Sutton. Other activities in the Ward include the “Second Saturday” social club for older people at the Friends’ Meeting House on the second Saturday of each month.

AgeUK say there has been a 106% increase in callers from our Ward to its Information and Advice service since the project started promoting it. The project is seeking volunteers, particularly as befrienders. These are organised by the Sutton Centre for Independent Living and Learning (Skill). There is a phone number 0208 770 4065, or email


christchurch garden

On 24 March Richard attended the opening of the new community garden at Christchurch. This is a remarkable piece of work to turn a scrubby bit of wasteland into something attractive and useful, funded by lottery money, the church and the Council.

The picture shows left to right our MP Paul Burstow, the Mayor, the Reverend Justine Middlemiss (of the Christchurch team Ministry), the Bishop of Croydon and the Reverend Mark Pullinger (the vicar of Christchurch) at the opening. The Bishop blessed the garden.



Trish and Richard have welcomed a further OFSTED report on the progress of Devonshire Avenue primary school that gives the school a good rating. On 23 March Richard visited the school to see the Head, Mr Kersey, and congratulate him.

The school achieved “good” ratings in five separate assessment categories:

Leadership and management  – Good

Behaviour and safety of pupils  – Good

Quality of teaching – Good

Achievement of pupils – Good

Early years provision – Good

The summary of key findings prepared by OFSTED is reproduced below/

“Summary of key findings for parents and pupils

This is a good school  Under the good leadership of the headteacher and deputy headteacher, there has been a successful drive to improve pupils’ achievement and the quality of teaching.  They are well supported by other senior leaders, staff and governors. Consequently, the dip in pupils’ performance which occurred after the last inspection has been successfully addressed. Pupils make good progress from their well below average starting points. By Year 6, their attainment in reading, writing and mathematics is now above average.  Pupils of all abilities achieve well with an increasing number making rapid progress in response to stimulating teaching. Improvement is particularly evident in writing which has, rightly, been a focus for development.  A very careful watch is kept on the progress of all pupils. Any pupils falling behind because they find learning difficult are quickly given extra help.  Provision and children’s progress in the Nursery is outstanding. Exciting learning opportunities encourage children to enjoy learning. Good progress in Reception ensures children get off to a good start.  Teaching is good. There are good systems to develop it further. Staff value the support provided by school leaders to help them improve their teaching.  School leaders have robust systems for promoting safeguarding. Pupils say they feel safe and are kept safe. They have good attitudes to learning and most behave well both in and out of the classroom. Most parents agree that behaviour is good.  Governors give good levels of challenge to school leaders. They have a very detailed knowledge of the school and share everyone’s ambitions for continuous improvement.”

Our picture, above, is of Trish and Richard at the school in front of the artwork that the pupils prepared that now adorns the hoarding at the Subsea7 site in Brighton Road.


pond and memorial straight

The show will go on for both of Sutton’s theatres which are set to be taken over a new theatre company to herald an exciting new era for the two venues.

The Sutton Theatres Trust will take over the running of the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre in Carshalton and the Secombe Theatre in Sutton.

Sutton Council began a review of its cultural services in August, through its Sutton’s Future campaign, which involves the pubic in helping to reshape Council services in order to make £40m of savings to its annual budget by 2019 due to unprecedented Government cuts.

The Council promised to consult users and try to find arts groups who could take over the ownership and management of the two theatres with no cost to the Council.

Through a series of meetings and workshops with potential bidders and 1,262 responses to an online and telephone survey, we have found the right candidate to take the theatres over and keep them open.

Sutton Theatres Trust, a company limited by guarantee, will lease both theatres for a 10-year period after being chosen from two bids on the basis of artistic and community value, financial stability and sustainability, governance and track record.


Sutton Council held its annual event for Holocaust Memorial Day on Friday 27th January 2012 in the Europa Gallery in Sutton Central Library. We both attended. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’ and had the aim of encouraging people to challenge injustice and hatred, thus creating a safer, better future. There were speeches from the Mayor of Sutton, Councillor Gerry Jerome, Holocaust survivor Marcel Ladenheim, Mr. Meddie Kakyama-Mayanja, who spoke on the African genocides, and Reverend Meir Lev, Minister of Sutton and District Synagogue. There were references to local experiences of hate crime in Sutton, along with a stall from the Safer Sutton Partnership on reporting hate crime, to bring a local perspective to the theme of ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’. There was also an exhibition with information and photographs on the theme.



Devonshire Primary School on the up


Children at Devonshire Primary School are getting a “good” education, according to a report just released by Ofsted.


The education watchdog said pupils “flourish socially and academically” at the school, and their attainment has been rising since the school was last inspected in 2008, when it was judged to be “satisfactory”.


The recent inspection, carried out before the half term break in October, said children are well behaved, enjoy lessons and are given opportunities to enjoy lots of activities outside of lessons.


The report states: “Pupils become good young citizens and make a good contribution to the community, participating enthusiastically in local events and willingly taking on responsibility outside lessons.


“The curriculum provides a breadth of exciting learning opportunities that enables pupils to enjoy school.”


The report also praised staff, saying they are enthusiastic and plan lessons that challenge pupils.


Headteacher Martin Kearsey said: “I am absolutely delighted that this report acknowledges the sustained teamwork of everybody at Devonshire. The staff, parents, governors and of course, our wonderfully talented children, fully deserve this recognition.”


Cllr Kirsty Jerome, Executive Member for Education and Schools at Sutton Council, said: “This is a great result for the pupils, staff and parents at Devonshire Primary School who have worked so hard over the last three years. They should be very proud of themselves and this report, which highlights the excellent learning and social opportunities available at the school.”


The result follows the expansion of Devonshire Primary, which saw three new classrooms open in September 2011.


It was one of four to expand as the number of places needed in Sutton continues to rise. Beddington Park, Dorchester and Muschamp primaries also expanded this year, and another five – All Saints Benhilton Church of England Primary, All Saints Carshalton Church of England Primary, Brookfield Primary, The Federation of St Elphege’s Catholic Infants and Junior and Cheam Common Infants – will be enlarged in time for the next school year.


Sutton’s primary school pupils achieved the third best SATs results in the country this year, and at GCSE level Sutton came top.



We have supported, and been instrumental in extending, proposals that will reduce disruption at local schools every time there is an election. 

Sutton Council recently completed a review of polling areas and polling stations, something it is required by law to conduct at set intervals.

We have long been aware of a concern on the part of parents of children at Devonshire Avenue primary school, the school that most primary-age school children in our Ward attend, of the disruptive effect of closing the school for a day to use it as a polling station. It disrupts the education of the children and creates a child-care issue for many parents, particularly those who work and may need to take a day off work as the school is closed. Consequently we have supported the proposal to consider, as an alternative, the use of the hall of Christchurch church in Christchurch Park. We are pleased that this proposal is now likely to be agreed.

During this consultation exercise Richard was approached by parents who live in Sutton South Ward but who send their children to Barrow Hedges school, which is just outside the Ward, making the point that similar considerations (the disruptive effect to the education of the children and the impact on parents) apply in respect of Barrow Hedges school. This led Richard to promote considering the use of the Baptist church hall in Banstead Road as an alternative. At the meeting of Sutton Council on 5 December the proposal will be put to it that in future neither Devonshire Avenue school nor Barrow Hedges school be used as polling stations. We support these proposals as they will avoid the disruption to the life of these schools that is involved in closing them for a day every time there is an election.


Students at Sutton schools achieved the best GCSE results in the country this summer.

Sutton’s schoolchildren topped the results table, published in October, with 74.4 per cent achieving five or more A*-C grades including maths and English. The national average was 58.3 per cent, while 62.2 per cent of outer London pupils achieved the benchmark this summer.

An impressive 91.2 per cent of Sutton’s 16-year-olds earned five or more A*-C grades in any subject, compared to an outer London average of 82.7 per cent. 

This is excellent news and confirms something we have known for a long time; that Sutton has some of the very best schools in the country. To top the table, ahead of every other local authority area in England, is a real achievement, and one that teachers, parents and students will be delighted about. All those pupils who took GCSE exams this summer should be very proud of themselves.

The local authority looks forward to working in partnership with those schools which have since become academies, to ensure these results continue.

In August it was revealed that Sutton pupils had achieved their best ever SATs results, placing the borough third in the national league table. The tests in reading, writing and mathematics, are taken by 11-year-olds at the end of their primary education.

It also follows Sutton being announced as the best place in London to bring up a family. The survey which looked at a number of factors, including access to good schools, named Sutton as one the top 20 best places to live in England and Wales.

The top 10 local authorities with the best GCSE results – percentage of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades including English and mathematics – are:

Sutton                                                       74.4%

Kensington and Chelsea                    72.2%

Hammersmith and Fulham              70.8%

Kingston                                                  70.4%

Buckinghamshire                                 69.4%

Isles of Scilly                                          68.4%

Redbridge                                                68.1%

Slough                                                       67.7%

Barnet                                                        67.5%

Wokingham                                             67.4%


More than 150 residents of our Ward joined forces on 25 June at a special event to help save one of the UK’s rarest butterflies.

The Butterfly Watch, at Devonshire Avenue Nature Area in Devonshire Avenue, was part of a series of measures to aid the small blue butterfly, which lives in just seven locations in London – three of which are in Sutton.

Residents learnt how different butterflies use the reserve, while children joined in with face painting, nature trails, and craft activities to build a butterfly. Devonshire School’s Parent Teacher Association kept everyone fuelled with cold drinks  and home made scones, whilst watching their children have a lot of fun.

Sutton’s Biodiversity Team showed residents how  the butterfly survives on  kidney vetch, the plant which provides the caterpillar with its food and habitat. 

Kidney vetch thrives in Sutton’s chalky, alkaline soil, and Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers took the names of people and organisations who want to grow the plant in their  gardens and allotments to increase the available habitat and provide stepping stones for the butterfly to colonise further areas.

Here, the Council’s Biodiversity Officer, Jurk Hendryk, explains what the butterflies need to survive. 
Councillor Heather Honour said: “This event was part of a wider scheme to improve the site, which provides an important green space in an area of our borough which has fewer back gardens. I am so pleased that many different parts of our local  community are involved in this project, from Christchurch in the neighbouring road, to the South Sutton Neighbourhood Association (SSNA).  For many of the children, it was the first time they had ever been on a nature trail, and they loved it!  Fun and learning, what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?”

The SSNA has put in a bid for external funds to improve the area and provide a small play facility so local children have somewhere local to play.

Small blue butterflies were identified in the late afternoon and there is currently (July) a good display of kidney vetch at the nature area.  There will be a demonstration of how to grow it and distribution of seeds later, in early September.

Colin Hall, Executive Member for Environment and Climate Change on Sutton Council, said: “The information day was all about telling residents how to give the butterfly a helping hand by growing the plants that it needs to survive – it’s a great example of the community coming together and boosting biodiversity in its own back yard.”

For any enquiries about getting involved with the project contact Councillor Honour on or for information about the site or small blue butterfly, please call the Biodiversity Team on 020 8770 5821 or email: 

[ Devonshire Avenue Nature Area ]



Heather and Richard visiting Devonshire Avenue school


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.