UGLY COMPUTER BOXES – IS THERE ONE NEAR YOU ?

Residents have contacted us about the ugly computer boxes erected in our Ward, such as the one shown below. While there are many of these green computer boxes on our street corners, a new generation of much larger and more obtrusive boxes is now being installed.

A post elsewhere on this site deals with a specific problem of the box in Cedar Road.

We need these boxes to improve broadband speeds. But Openreach (a subsidiary of BT), who install them, do not need planning permission or to take any notice of the aesthetic and amenity aspects of the erection of the boxes. This is by Act of Parliament and the local Council is helpless.

We are collecting information. Is there a box near you ? Is it sensibly sited ? Let us know.

This box, in Cedar Road, is badly sited, right outside someone’s front window. A post elsewhere on this site deals with this particular problem.

You can see how this is right in front of the house.

This one in Cornwall Road (not in our Ward) has been placed in front of the house and right in the attractive hedgerow lovingly cultivated by the residents. It could as easily have been a few feet away round the corner and giving no offence.

Research by Councillor Clifton has shown that these are not isolated incidents and across London there is increasing concern at the lack of consultation and the poor decisions involved in siting these boxes. Further afield, there are examples of local campaigns in places as far apart as Brighton (see the Brighton Argus, 26 May) and Dundee (the Dundee Courier, April 14).

Openreach have “Permitted Development Rights” and, according to the Council’s Planning Department, “Permitted Development Rights” exist provided that the ground or base area does not exceed 1.5 square metres (with only a height restriction of being no more than 15 metres off the ground – if unattached to a building). This is set out under the Electronic Communications Code (Conditions and Restrictions) Regulations 2003 and Part 24 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(Amendment)(England) Order 2001. The only check by the Council is that there is no impediment such as buried cables and, if not, the Council has no power to stop the development.

Councillor Clifton said “Parliament, in granting these powers to bypass planning law, would have expected the company to behave responsibly in considering the impact on local residents.”

Openreach have disclosed to Councillor Clifton the full list of criteria used when siting boxes. This is printed below.

Councillor Clifton has told them that the criteria are defective in that nothing is said about not erecting boxes immediately outside a resident’s front door or window, and nothing is said about aesthetic considerations or fitting in to the streetscene and local ambience.

The criteria are:

“General Considerations

The following points serve as planning considerations when selecting a suitable location for the DSLAM cabinet.

  • The ideal position of the DSLAM cabinet is within 2m of Copper cabinet. Please ensure that there is 1m clearance either side of the DSLAM.
  • The maximum cable length from DSLAM cabinet to PCP is normally 50m (needed to maintain PCP CAL value).
  • The position of, and access to the DSLAM cabinet must accommodate installation by crane from a truck. It must also be feasible to make maintenance visits for an engineer (e.g. to check batteries), or change cards.
  • Situate in a safe and non-obstructive manner for the public, engineers and contractors.
  • Avoid kerbside locations if possible – reducing a traffic hazard.
  • Avoid places where restrictive waiting or working restrictions may apply.
  • Avoid causing obstruction or restricting road and pavement users’ line of sight.
  • Avoid locating where the cabinet can be used as an intermediate stepping-stone to someone wishing to climb over a high wall/fence.
  • Consider how to minimise the risk due to other services (e.g. overhead obstructions).
  • Proximity to schools, elderly, disabled and other vulnerable groups where a lifting operation would incur additional risk. .
  • Consider obstruction to maintenance of gardens and buildings, such as hedge cutting, fence preserving, etc. Please allow 100mm from cabinet to wall.
  • Safe dig prints and the use of Locator 9B can be used to avoid positioning of the cabinet above other services.
  • Health and Safety Guide (47) is a useful document
  • Where proposed DSLAM cabinets are located in flood plain areas, try to mitigate the risk of flooding where possible. The level of risk can be found on the Environment Agency website. Local, County councils and other utilities can be a useful source of info.
  • You need to take account of noise emissions and allow for this in quiet residential premises (aim for greater distances from bedrooms). Avoid locations where noise could reverberate or be directed towards premises (such as alleyways). Discuss individual cases if this cannot be achieved with the policy team. “

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.”

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 ]

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.”

 

COUNCILLORS HONOUR AND CLIFTON SUPPORT MAINTENANCE OF IMPORTANT LOCAL BUS SERVICES

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[ A 280 bus approaches the bus stop at the end of Cavendish Road in Sutton South Ward ]

Your Sutton South Liberal Democrat Councillors have recently responded to the Transport for London Autumn 2010 Bus Service Review Programme, for services with contracts that are due to end in 2012.The services of relevance to Sutton South residents included in this review are:

  • The X26 Croydon to Heathrow service
  • The 280 Tooting to Belmont service.

This is part of formal consultation process. We have responded to point out that these services are of value to those living in south Sutton, the Belmont to Tooting service being an important south-north link and the Heathrow service providing a means of getting to the airport at reasonable speed by bus without having to go in to central London. We would not want to see these services withdrawn or reduced.

In support of the points we have raised, the Council has written formally to Transport for London to set out the concerns of local people. The council has recorded that the X26 is a highly valued service providing an orbital bus link through the Borough and a speedy route to Heathrow. The Council has sought an extension of the frequency of the service, which is half hourly during the day but only hourly after 7pm, to be half hourly during the evening. The Council has pointed out that the service is often crowded during the day and has sought an increase in the frequency of the service to once every 20 minutes.

The Council has also stressed the importance of the 280 route, connecting local people to Mitcham and Tooting. It has commented that the timetabling of the service could be improved.

As your local Councillors, we will closely follow this consultation process and seek to ensure these services are retained and, if that can be justified, improved.

COUNCILLOR HONOUR CONGRATULATES SUTTON SOUTH POLICE TEAM

 Councillor Heather Honour has congratulated Sergeant Dave Williams and the members of the Sutton South Safer Neighbourhoods Team after an amazing police coup, uncovering a cannabis factory in an empty office building in Sutton South Ward, Sutherland House.

Writing to Sergeant Williams, she said “Congratulations to you and your team on the discovery of the cannabis factory in Sutherland House.  What a very positive story for Sutton South Safer Neighbourhoods Team!”

Police uncovered one of the biggest cannabis factories ever found in Sutton Borough. The cannabis factory was over four floors of the disused office building at Sutherland House, Brighton Road, Sutton – just a few yards from Sutton train station.

Officers estimate the 6th to 9th floors of the building contained around 3,000 plants. Two of the floors contained plants three feet high that were within days of being harvested. The other floors contained a nursery, a drying room and living accommodation for two people complete with beds.

The cannabis factory was discovered after an electrician had been called to carry out some electrical work by the building’s management company. The electrician became suspicious and alerted a Police Community Support Officer, who was on patrol near the building at the time. Officers forced entry to the top floors and were astounded by what they found.

Forensics experts were called in to gather initial evidence and to take photographs whilst the police helicopter circled overhead in case the suspects were on the roof of the building. Sergeant Dave Williams, of Sutton South Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said: “It’s the biggest find I have ever had.”

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Sutherland House, where the cannabis factory was found, yards from Sutton rallway station.

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Sutton police station, the base for the Sutton South Safer Neighbourhoods Team.