SERVING OUR RESIDENTS

At the New Year some residents complained to me of flooding under the Grange Vale bridge. Cycling across to the bridge, I found the heavy and quick leaf fall this autumn had led to a mulch of leaves blocking the drains. While there are over 20 000 street trees in Sutton, so the annual leaf fall stretches the cleaning teams, Grange Vale is also affected by fall from trees owned by Network Rail, on the railway line. I dealt with the problem by myself clearing away the leaf debris. I have asked the response team to give priority to Grange Vale during the leaf fall next year.

Also, just after Christmas, residents in Cavendish Road reported the dumping of rubbish all round the bin adjacent to Fiske Court. I cycled over to look at the problem. I cleared the rubbish back into the bin but more was dumped the following day. I have got tyhe response team to slightly move the bin and, for the time being, check it daily.

A resident of Leslie Gardens, a cul-de-sac off Worcester Road, approached me concerning the problems experienced during the snow last winter, as there is no grit bin near the road and a slight incline at the entrance turns it into an ice rink. After discussion with Council officials, I obtained a new grit bin which has been placed in the road. This adds to the large number of grit bins placed at locations throughout the Ward by the Council over the last two years. Other bins, such as the ones in Hillcroome Road and in Downside Road, were placed at our specific request after discussion with residents.

These are not isolated successes. We have achieved many. For example, see below the litter bin obtained, following an approach from a resident, which we got placed at a strategic point in Cedar Road (said by a resident to be at about the point someone walking back from the station with a takeway snack would finish it and drop litter). Also the tree we got planted in Copse Hill (which replaced a tree demolished by a car in a road traffic accident).

The rubbish bin in Cedar Road

The tree in Copse Hill

 Let us know of other strategic locations in the Ward where something is needed.

NEW POLLING ARRANGEMENTS WILL HELP LOCAL SCHOOLS

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.

COUNCILLORS GET GRUBBY!

Heather and Richard joined in the first of the kidney vetch plantings which took place today, 10th March, at Sutton Court.  Kidney vetch is the plant needed for the endangered small blue butterfly to survive.  This rare butterfly is found in three locations in Sutton, one of which is Devonshire Avenue Nature Area.

Youngsters who took part were delighted to find “white grubs” in the soil.  These are the grubs of the Maybug and they live for three years under the surface, until they become adults. The grubs were of course replaced in the soil once they had been inspected.

Hendryk Jurk, Sutton’s biodiversity manager led the planting assisted by Jill, his newly appointed gardens officer.  Jack Hamilton, from the Sutton South Neighbourhood Association, gamely wielded a pick axe too.

Further plantings in Sutton South will take place in Devonshire  Primary School, Christchurch and The Ridgway.  It is hoped to develop a corridor of habitat suitable for the small blue, leading to Warren Park.  Watch this website for further details.

COUNCIL CHALLENGES BORIS ON TRANSPORT

 

The Mayor of London has been accused of short-changing Sutton after the borough was given the capital’s lowest transport grant. 

Each year, every London borough receives Local Implementation Plan (LIP) funding from Transport for London (TfL) to invest in local projects which support the Mayor’s plan for transport in the capital. For the second year in a row, Sutton has been given the least in London, leaving the council with less money to invest in the transport infrastructure.

frustrated councillors have criticised the Mayor for failing to invest in Sutton, despite the borough’s track record in delivering innovative transport plans.

Cllr Simon Wales, Executive Member for Communities, Transport and Voluntary Sector on Sutton Council, said: “Sutton has a great track record in running innovative and successful transport schemes, but we need money to make them work. The council and members of the local community work together to make sure the transport system keeps getting better and better but the fact remains that we could do even more if we had more funding.

“I’m disappointed that the Mayor and TfL won’t give Sutton the same kind of grant that it awards to other boroughs. This means that some of the improvements that we have planned will have to be cut back, or even shelved completely. We think that Sutton’s residents deserve better, and will continue working hard to carry out transport improvements that the local community wants to see.”

As well as schemes to boost traffic flow and make travel more sustainable, LIP funding is used to make the borough’s roads safer.  Maintenance works are financed through a separate budget, but improvements to reduce the number of road accidents often come out of LIP resources. Transport investment is particularly important in the current economic climate, as good accessibility is one of the factors that help town centres and local shops to thrive.

In Sutton, LIP money has been used to continue the successful initiatives on sustainable transport under the scheme known as Smarter Travel Sutton, which increased cycling by 75 per cent and is now used as example by other councils, after the initial project came to an end.

 

YOUR VOICE COUNTS!

Your Local Committee ! 



The Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee is the forum where your councillors, community representatives and residents from the Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont Wards meet to discuss issues of local importance.  There is also an open forum where local residents ask questions.

At recent meetings Richard updated the Committee on the issue of BT green boxes (reported in other posts on this site, see archive for May, June and July) and drew attention to the threat to withdraw train services linking Sutton to St. Pancras International (also reported elsewhere, see archive for July). Heather reported on the Butterfly Watch at Devonshire Avenue Nature Reserve (also reported elsewhere on this site, see archive for July) and we congratulated Sutton South Neighbourhood Association on the success of their bid for funding to improve the reserve. 

The next meeting is on 23 February at the Chiltern Churn. For any enquiries, contact Ian Kershaw, Senior Co-ordinator, at ian.kershaw@sutton.gov.uk  or contact Heather or Richard. We hope to see you there!

ROAD MEETING FAILS TO SOLVE CEDAR ROAD BOX PROBLEM

A street meeting attended by local residents was held on the morning of 9 June at the box, pictured above, erected by BT/Openreach outside 39 Cedar Road in South Sutton Ward. While we need these boxes for Broadband, local people have expressed strong feelings about the way this box is erected right outside the resident’s front window.

A post on this website (see archive for May 2011) describes the general problem related to these boxes, but we are aware that BT/Openreach can, due to an Act of Parliament, ignore planning law in erecting the boxes. Sutton Council wrote to them last November with objections to the proposal to erect this box in Cedar Road as it contravenes Department for Transport guidance. BT seemingly ignored the Council’s objection, which they can legally do, though they have maintained that in a discussion with a member of staff of the Council the objection was later withdrawn. These objections related only to comformity with planning guidance and not the wider problem of the impact of the box on the amenity of local residents. Within a 100 yard radius of the box there are four old-style green boxes in appropriate positions that do not cause any problem to residents. Local residents felt that the box could have been erected alongside one of those.

The street meeting was attended by local residents, including the occupant of 39 Cedar Road, Councillor Clifton and Councillor Colin Hall, who deals with these issues on the Executive of Sutton Council and has been in touch with other Councils that have similar problems across London. Jack Hamilton, former chair of Sutton South Neighbourhood Association and a local resident, also attended. 

Two people from BT/Openreach, Giles Ellerton and Adrian Paice, came to the meeting. The argument they put to the local residents was an entirely technical argument that technical problems, related to avoiding digging up pavements where there are high-voltage cables and required distances between cabinets, prevented them from putting the cabinet in any other position.

Local residents were suspicious of the argument put, in that it is a technical argument by the people who have the technical expertise, and consequently no-one present had the expertise necessary to assess its validity. There was also a feeling that if the occupant had had hard standing for a car in front of her house, as the house next door does, this would have prevented BT/Openreach from erecting a cabinet in that position – in which case they would undoubtedly have found some other solution, not just given up.

In email exchanges after the meeting an offer has been made to the resident of 39 Cedar Road of compensation for particular aspects of the inconvenience she has suffered. However this is very limited and we understand she is not likely to accept it.

Councillor Clifton, whose pressure led to the meeting being set up, comments as follows:

“This meeting has not resolved the problem. I can take some positives from it.

First, BT/Openreach have, under pressure,  now met local residents and explained in much greater detail than we have had before why the box was erected where it is. This makes it possible to seek more information and a technical opinion on whether their argument stands up, something we will do.

Second, alerted by the problem here, I will ask Sutton Council officials to advise me as a local Councillor of the locations of any further boxes to be erected in Sutton South Ward so I can look at the proposed locations. BT/Openreach seem to have been usually quite responsible in assessing locations, which makes it particularly disappointing that they cannot resolve the Cedar Road problem – a particular, and severe, problem.

Finally, the meeting has led to a very limited offer of compensation. That is, however, a matter for those involved to discuss.” 

[ A tense moment during the road meeting, at which there was a frank and open exchange of views between local residents and BT/Openreach staff. Councillor Clifton, on the right, puts a point to Giles Ellerton of BT/Openreach. ]

COUNCILLOR CLIFTON GETS LISTED BUILDING STATUS FOR PAVILION IN OUR AREA OF SPECIAL LOCAL CHARACTER

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Councillor Clifton nominated the Edwardian tennis pavilion that sits on the triangle of land where The Ridgway joins Mayfield Road in our Ward for inclusion on the Sutton Local List. At the Sutton Council meeting on 9 May 2011 the pavilion was included in the list of buildings to be added to the Sutton Local List.

This is the only building in Sutton South Ward to be included on the Local List, though the Registry Office in Worcester Road is on the national list of Listed Buildings.

The building is the only one of the buildings put forward as additions during the consultation process to make it to the final list.  This was attributed to the fact that Councillor Clifton had put forward a carefully researched case, including adequate evidence.

The Sutton Local List is a list of buildings thought to be of importance to the comunity, though not of sufficient merit to be “Listed Buildings” for inclusion on the national list. The list thus includes local buildings of significance to the local community. Sutton Council has been consulting on additions to the Local List and, at a presentation to the Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee on 27 January, it became evident that not one single building in Sutton South Ward was under consideration for inclusion on the local list. This led to Councillor Clifton proposing inclusion of the pavilion.

The inclusion of the pavilion on the list may be helpful in the preservation of the character of this area as an Area of Special Local Character (ASLC), and thus resisting any inappropriate development in the area, such as demolition of houses and erection of blocks of flats, which has been the trend in adjacent areas. At a Planning Appeal attended by Councillor Clifton last year he had to explain to the Inspector the importance of local people of the ASLC and why it should be taken into account in the planning decision.

Councillor Clifton said:

“I am delighted with this outcome. One of our key objectives, as local Councillors, is to preserve the character of the Area of Special Local Character at the east end of Sutton South Ward. We must resist the trend to knock down houses and build small blocks of flats, which has led to a shortage of family homes in many parts of Sutton South Ward, and half the children living in accommodatin with no access to a garden. This recognition of the importance of buildings such as the Edwardian tennis club to the special character of the area may be helpful to us in pursuing that objective.”

In proposing the pavilion, Councillor Clifton wrote: 

“It is an Edwardian tennis pavilion, built in 1908 by the local architect Percy Vere Windebank, on the triangle of land at the junction of Mayfield Road and The Ridgway, in South Sutton Ward. It is a relatively unaltered example of a small, Edwardian tennis club pavilion, though the windows have been altered in an unsympathetic manner.

The history of the building is interesting. Up to 1906 this area was lavender fields. Between 1906 and 1914 Windebank laid out the Highfields Estate, building what is now The Ridgway, Mayfield Road , Chalgrove Road and Hillcroome Road . The concept was an estate of large, expensive houses with large gardens, grouped around or close to a triangle of land on which there would be a lawn tennis and croquet club, for the benefit of the residents. In 2008 the Highfields Residents’ Association published a history of the estate, “Highfields 100”, to mark the centenary. A copy of this history, to which Councillor Clifton is listed as a contributor, is obtainable from Mr Keith Percy at 63 The Ridgway, SM2 5JX. The houses are of some architectural merit, as indicated in the history.

We believe the pavilion was built by 1908, as the Highfield Lawns tennis club was in existence by that year. On 22 August 1908 an advertisement for the first of the newly-built houses on the estate was published in the Surrey County Herald newspapers, and mentioned the private tennis club on the estate. Highfield Lawns Ltd. was established as a company by 1913 with the sole objective of owning the land in order to allow the tennis and croquet club to operate. Those who bought one of Windebank’s houses could buy shares in Highfield Lawns. The Articles of Association of the company provide, to this day, that if you own a share in the company you can only vote on its affairs if you also own property in the Highfields Estate.

Over the years the large gardens have been sold off for infill housing, mostly of a good quality. The area is designated an Area of Special Local Character (ASLC) and the Edwardian tennis pavilion is central to the character of the area. Were it to be proposed to demolish and re-build the pavilion any replacement would need to be a building of a similar character (not a modern building or a concrete slab) due to the ASLC designation. If the Local List is a list of buildings of some local significance, the pavilion should be on the list. This is based on criteria 3, a building of significant local interest.”

 

Councillors Clifton and Honour would welcome information on any famous people who have lived in Sutton South Ward, for consideration as to whether there should be a plaque erected on the property where they lived.

 

This is a picture of the clubhouse taken from the triangle in The Ridgway. A photograph taken in 1913 shows an almost identical scene.

 

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.”