Overton Grange school

Overton Grange school

Every borough in London is struggling to keep place with the increasing demand for school places. Sutton has done well to cope with the increased demand for primary school places. The bulge is now working its way through to secondary schools. Hence the need for Overton Grange school (the only secondary school in our Ward) to expand, and the need for a new school.

Sutton is doing well. It has the third-highest first-preference rate for secondary school places in London, with almost 80 per cent of local families receiving their first choice of school for their child – well above the London average of 68.52 per cent.

Sutton has once again achieved one of the best rates overall, with the percentage of families receiving one of their top-three preferences increasing to 94.5 per cent – up 1.5 per cent from 2015 and almost six percentage points above the London average of 88.64 per cent.

Parents in the borough have been told which secondary schools have made offers of places for their children for the September 2016 intake.

In September, these children will start at our secondary schools, officially ranked as being among the best in England for teaching and exam results. In 2015, the proportion of Sutton students scoring 5 or more A* to C grades including English and Maths was 76.9 per cent, well above the 2014 national average of 53.4 per cent. Across the borough, 83.5 per cent of pupils achieved five or more GCSEs.

Almost two-thirds (65.1 per cent) of students across the borough achieved the highest A-Level A*, A and B grades in 2015 and the percentage of Sutton students achieving an A-Level pass grade (A* to E) increased to 99.7 per cent from 98.5 per cent in 2014. This was well above the UK average.



overton bulbs

Sutton Council’s Planning Committee, which Richard chairs, has agreed expansion plans for Overton Grange school, the only secondary school in Sutton South Ward.

Sutton Council, like every London Borough, has been pursuing a strategy to cope with the increased demand for school places. Having successfully coped with a surge in demand for primary school places, the bulge is now moving through to secondary schools. The Council continues to work on its proposals for at least one new secondary school in Sutton, while almost all of the existing secondary schools – including Overton Grange – are submitting plans to expand the number of places.

Overton Grange school is the only secondary school in our Ward and, while it takes students from all over Sutton, many local parents send their children there. Like many Sutton schools, it is planning to expand its intake to meet the additional demand for secondary school places in the Borough due to rising numbers of children. Currently the school takes in 210 students each year and it plans to expand the school by increasing its intake by a class of 30 each year from autumn 2016.

The school, which has “Academy” status so it is not under the control of the local authority, staged an exhibition of its building plans on 22 April, at the school. A new teaching block is proposed, and the school is taking the opportunity of the building work to expand its canteen, which is not large enough for the current size of the school.

At the time of the last local elections, last May, scare stories were put round that the school planned to expand into Overton Park. This is not the case.

Richard said, after the Planning Committee decision ” The rising number of children reaching secondary school age means that expansion of our schools is necessary, alongside the proposals for new schools, and I am pleased the Council is taking effective action to avert any crisis in school places. I am pleased there is no intention to expand into the park, a story that had no foundation and was a political scare story.”

Overton Grange plans to expand its intake by 30 pupils per year, a one form intake, from the autumn of 2016. The Planning Committee considered a report on an application for the erection of a part ground, part first, part second floor extension, to provide five additional classrooms with ancillary accommodation, three single storey extensions to provide additional canteen, kitchen and storage facilities, together with roof canopy to the main front entrance, a detached store, with soft and hard landscaping.

Overton Grange is a popular local school and this extension will continue to ensure there are sufficient places locally for children reaching secondary school age, so this is good news for the many parents in the area who have young children. Secondary school provision in the area will be further enhanced by the decision to build the first of the new secondary schools we need on the nearby Sutton hospital site.


dana final

On 15 July Sutton Council debated our on-going commitment to the sustainability agenda and Sutton’s desire to be London’s most sustainable suburb. Sutton is ranked the highest outer London Borough in having the lowest CO2 emissions.

We represent Sutton South Ward, which has only one open space, the Devonshire Avenue Nature Area, an oasis of open space in an area dominated by small blocks of flats, where a study showed half the children live in properties without a garden. We think it commendable that Sutton Council has ensured that this site remains a nature reserve. But a few years ago that meant leaving it as jungle. It was little used, except for anti-social happenings behind the brick walls that still occupied part of the site. Today it remains a nature area, aiding the survival of the rare small blue butterfly (a talisman of Sutton South Ward), but it has benches, paths and a nature trail. We wanted to take the opportunity the motion afforded to pay tribute to Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers, who maintain the site, and to those who distribute the funds to aid community projects provided by the landfill operator Viridor, whose funding, in 2012, paid for the renovation of the site.


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


The bags of rubbish collected by the Highfields Residents' Association

The bags of rubbish collected by the Highfields Residents’ Association

Sutton Council issued a call to local people to get involved in the country’s first ever Community Clear Up Day on Saturday 21 March.

Richard joined with other residents organised by his local residents’ association, the Highfields Residents’ Association, to help clear his local neighbourhood of litter. Richard is a former chair of the Association.

The Council supported volunteer groups willing to help clear their local area, by providing litter picking tools, rubbish sacks and gloves.

As well as being an awful blight on the green borough of Sutton, litter costs the council up to £4m a year to clean up.  That is the equivalent of running a library service for a year; repairing 100,000 potholes, providing 210 residential care places for the elderly; or building half a primary school.

The Council successfully campaigned against litter last year – hiring two new enforcement officers to issue penalties to those who litter in Sutton; installing 300 new bins; and even displaying 11 tonnes of rubbish on the high street, to demonstrate a year’s worth of litter.

But there is still work to be done to keep Sutton clean and save the taxpayer money.


On 6 January (Twelfth Night) Richard and his wife Gloria had lunch at “The Clink” restaurant which is in Her Majesty’s Prison High Down, in Banstead. Richard now regards this as the best restaurant within a half mile radius of Sutton South Ward.

Negotiating the website and the security checks to get a booking at this restaurant is a challenge. We tried to go before Christmas but it was full. Today the restaurant, which can seat about 60, was fairly empty. You have to turn up early, bring lots of photo ID, not have a mobile phone on you, and be prepared to pay by cheque. It is a bit of a walk from the reception area to the main gate of the prison, where, accompanied by a warder, you are taken through numerous gates that are opened before you and locked behind you, and across various internal courtyards. When you reach the restaurant it has the ambience of a good central London restaurant, and the food is superb.

The restaurant is run as a training restaurant and the prisoners so trained are helped to find jobs in catering after they leave the high security prison. Richard had a Caesar salad, some duck, and a peach desert. Gloria had soup, some beautifully presented fish, and the peach desert. No alcohol of course. All for a little over £50 for two, with an option to leave a donation for the charity, devoted to the rehabilitation of offenders.

The restaurant can be found, and a booking made, at  this address (click on “at”).



Work will be carried out between 24 October to 11 November to clean the gulleys in roads in our Ward. This is essential work to avoid flooding.

The work will require temporary  waiting restrictions – ‘no waiting’ – and loading restrictions – ‘no loading / unloading’ – in those roads or lengths of roads where cleaning is taking place on the day of the cleaning.  Advance notice will be given to residents three days before the restrictions are due to apply.  The restrictions will be removed as soon as the works are completed.  The works will take place between 7am and 2pm on Mondays to Fridays.

The work will require the temporary  suspension of any disabled persons parking places,  permit parking place,  shared use permit/pay and display parking place,  loading place or any other free parking place in those roads or lengths of roads that are adjacent to a drainage gulley, on the days cleaning is taking place.

The days the work will take place are:

24/10/2014 Abbottsleigh Close, Audely Place, Carmborne Road and Stanley Road (between Worcester Roadand Ventnor Road).

27/10/2014 Blackbush Close, Effingham Close, Grange Road (Overton Road to Worcester Road), Grange Vale, Tapestry Close. Upton Dene, Ventnor Road and Westmorland Drive.

28/10/2014 Bonchurch Close, Brighton Road, ( Devonshire Avenue to Mulgrave Road), Devonshire Avenue, Devonshire Road Sutton (Langley Park Road to Devonshire Avenue).

29/10/2014 Christchurch Park, Milestone Close, Walnut Mews and White Lodge Close

30/10/2014 Albion Road, Downside Road. Farm Close Sutton, Farm Road, and The Ridgeway.

31/10/2014 Ambleside Gardens, Cavendish Road, Prior Avenue and Upland Road

10/11/2014 Cedar Road, Chalgrove Road, Eaton Road, Langley Park Road, (Chalgrove Road to Railway Bridge), Mitre Close.

11/11/2014 Cedar Gardens, Cumnor Road, Hillcroome Road, Mayfield Road, Rutherford Close and Wellesley Road.

12/11/2014 Coniston Gardens, Copse Hill, Eastleigh Close, Ferndown Close, Kayemoor Road, Leslie Gardens, Summers Close, Willis Avenue and Worcester Road (Overton Road to Mulgrave Road).


Richard plus tree in Farm Road 

Richard planting a tree in Farm Road.

Richard, Nali, Heather and Sue with trees

Richard, Nali, Heather and Sue with trees

There is a new programme of tree planting in our Ward, over the winter. Exciting news. Some of these are already planted. Here is a listing of sites. Contact us if you have other nominations to make.

There will be a number of different types of tree including laburnum, malus trilobata, corylus colurna, prunus sargentii rancho, crataegus laevigata “Paul’s Scarlet” and acer campestre “Streetwise”.


ALBION ROAD, SUTTON Outside number 20      









  DEVONSHIRE ROAD, SUTTON  near junction Egmont Road      


 near junction Egmont Road      






7, and opposite Kayemoor Road      



Outside 24/26, outside 10, outside 32/34      



Outside 41





Close to number 90      



Outside 45, 53/55, 76




Outside 9, 62, 4




Outside 15




Outside 15/17




 Outside 5, and outside 6      






An additional tree has been planted outside 3 Chalgrove Road at the suggestion of a resident.

Residents have the opportunity to foster these new trees and help leave a green legacy. Under the Council’s Tree Fostering Scheme they can help look after trees that are planted near their homes for up to three years. Maintenance duties include watering the trees with three buckets of water a week in the dry months and, if they want to, loosen tree ties and trim off broken twigs. By signing up, residents will receive a tree care guide with information on how to look after their tree.


Fly tipping in Prior Avenue

Fly tipping in Prior Avenue

The latest public satisfaction survey shows most of our residents really like living in Sutton, and the Borough achieves higher satisfaction scores than most comparable London Boroughs.

Amongst the things that bug people, however, is the litter people drop. The Council has taken new powers, including to impose an £80 on-the-spot fine, enforced by new litter wardens.

An 11 tonne mountain of rubbish, one day’s worth of litter was created in the middle of Sutton High Street on 6 February as part of the anti-litter campaign to change bad habits and save council tax payers money.

The pile, over 10ft tall and just as wide in clear plastic bags, demonstrated how much street litter is collected each day at a cost of £4m a year. That is the equivalent of running a library service for a year, repairing 100,000 potholes, providing 210 residential care places for the elderly or building half a primary school.

litter picture

The anti-litter event also included a display of fly tipping collected from the Borough’s streets. Despite the Council having a dedicated service for collecting larger goods, some people still fly tip at a cost of £170,000 a year to clean up. Fly tipping can include anything from TVs and sofas to large tipper trucks dumping commercial waste. There have been particular problems at certain roads in our Ward such as Prior Avenue.


Homeland Drive, Belmont

Homeland Drive, Belmont

In earlier posts on this site we have set out our concerns about the proposed closure of the Grove Road and Belmont surgeries, used by many residents of our Ward, and opening of a replacement surgery in a building in Homeland Drive, in Belmont. This is of particular concern due to the high proportion of over 75s in our Ward (a higher percentage than for any other Ward in Sutton) and the lack of any GP surgery in the Ward. There is a problem of access to the site, which is poorly served by public transport.

At the Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee on 11 February and at the Council meeting on 3 March Richard and Heather repeated their opposition to the proposal and pressed for improvements to the proposed community transport scheme. This would go some way to ameliorating our concerns.

In speeches to Council on 3 March both Richard and Heather expressed concern that the doctors did not seem interested in proposals from Ruth Dombey, our Council leader, to help find a better alternative site.

We are writing to NHS England and continuing our campaign within the decision-taking structures of the NHS. Here is the text of Richard’s speech to Council on 3 March summarising our position.

“Councillor Honour and I, as Councillors for Sutton South Ward, have consistently opposed the move of the two surgeries to the Henderson hospital site. Our Ward has the highest proportion of elderly residents of any Ward in Sutton and there are many residents of our Ward who go to the Grove Road or Belmont surgeries. Our objection to the site is that it is not sufficiently accessible by public transport. What has been offered by way of a community transport service, to deal with this problem, is a help but does not resolve the problem.

This motion applauds the efforts made by Councillor Dombey to resolve this issue, and I would like to warmly support that sentiment.

This is a decision taken by local doctors who work within the National Health Service. I understand from the evidence that NHS England gave to the Council’s Scrutiny Committee last year that the doctors have to put their case for the move to NHS England. Councillor Honour and I have written to NHS England to remind them of their responsibilities in this matter and ask them not to endorse this decision.

The local authority has come into this by the back door in three ways. First, as local planning authority, because the doctors need planning permission for the building. I sat through the discussion at the Development Control Committee and respect the fact that the Committee concluded ultimately that there were insufficient planning grounds to turn down the application. Its decisions are subject to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate so it cannot capriciously ignore the published planning policies. Second, I understand that the authority is a joint owner of the site but legal advice is that the Council would be in breach of contract were it not to proceed to completion of the sale – if the decision is taken, by the doctors and the NHS, to go ahead with this move. Third, the offer of Councillor Dombey to act as a mediator. I still hope that will be taken up.

So the spotlight has to focus on the decision-taking processes in the NHS.

Councillor Honour and I have written to NHS England to remind them of their responsibilities in this matter and urge them consider alternatives to this decision.”

 Here is the text of our letter to NHS England.

“Unsuitable Location for Proposed GP Surgery in Sutton

As Councillors for Sutton South Ward in the London Borough of Sutton we are deeply concerned at proposals to close two GP surgeries and replace them with a new medical surgery at a site unsuitable for many of our residents.

There is at present no GP surgery in our Ward, which has the highest proportion of residents aged over 70 of any Ward in the Borough of Sutton. Our residents use a number of local surgeries but many go to the surgery at Grove Road in the centre of Sutton and to the Belmont surgery, close to Belmont railway station. These are to close, under the proposals.

The proposed new medical centre is in Homeland Drive, at the site of the former Henderson hospital. However, the site is not sufficiently accessible for the elderly and those without a car. It is rated PTAL 1b, which means that it is not accessible to public transport.  It is in fact at least 300 metres up a steepish inclined road that is dark and uninviting. Our GPs state that 75% of  patients will use a car. The remainder are likely to be elderly, unable to drive a car, or on a low income. They also are likely to be amongst the most frequent patients at the surgery.

There are severe limitations on the use of dial-a-ride and taxicard, so use of these services is not an option for people who find it difficult to access public transport and this site.  

The statistics on the population of the Ward illustrate the problem. Sutton South has much more sheltered housing, and more care homes than other parts of the Borough. 2.94% of Ward residents live in managed residential accommodation compared to a Borough average of 0.78%. Over 75 per cent of properties in Sutton South are flats, many of them single occupancy. 46.3% of households in Sutton South are single person households, with 15.5% occupied by people over 65. The population of the Ward is elderly.

Sutton South      Sutton average      National average

Over 65s        17.49%           14.32%                       16.74% 

Over 75s        10.62%           7.07%                         7.96%

Over 85s        4.13%             2.1%                          2.31%

Although 73% of residents in the Borough say they are ‘well connected’, 10% of respondents in Sutton South say “they have no one to turn to locally for help”, compared to a Borough average of 6%. This means that they would not have people to assist them with transport.

We therefore consider that the proposed site for the new GP surgeries does not meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our Ward and we would prefer a more  accessible site.

From the information that we have received it does not appear that the GPs have considered the transport needs of their  elderly patients, a growing demographic,  who will need to use the surgery often, possibly as much as once a week for visits to the other services at the centre as well as their GPs. Many have said to us that they will need to change their doctor if this goes ahead. 

In response to our concerns the developer of the site, Assura, has offered a community transport scheme. However, after close examination of this, it does   not appear to be a practicable solution.

Once again the NHS, which declares that it is patient centred, is failing its patients by not taking account of their transport needs. This has been a major local issue in the abortive Better Services Better Value  plans to change the status of our local hospital, St Helier. 

It is by no means clear to us what the process is in the NHS to take a wider view of the optimum location of GP surgeries in the interests of the patients. However, we understand from evidence that NHS England gave to Sutton Council’s Scrutiny Committee last year that NHS England have a role. We would therefore like to meet you to discuss how you conside that these proposals meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents and your most needy patients.

Yours sincerely.