SUTTON IS THE BEST PLACE IN LONDON FOR FAMILIES

 

Sutton has been rated the best place in London to bring up children. 

An analysis of factors including crime rates, earnings, house prices and access to good schools revealed the London borough as the top location in the capital for young families to set up home.
 
It was the only place in London to make the top 20 of best places to live in England and Wales, according to the study compiled by children’s savings provider Family Investments.

Researchers looked at more than 60 indicators – both positive and negative – in 2,400 postcode areas in England and Wales to draw up the list of “family-friendly hotspots”.

Sutton, which has over 1,500 acres of parks and open spaces, topped the London list ahead of Redbridge and Teddington.

The average value of a two-bedroom property in Sutton was found to be £190,582, higher than the £167,659 national average, but “affordable” by London standards – enabling families to get on the housing ladder.

The schools in the borough are some of the highest achieving in the UK, with Sutton’s primaries recently achieving the third highest SATS results in the country. 

Sutton is also the borough with the highest percentage of employed residents in the capital. According to the Office for National Statistics, 78 per cent of Sutton’s working-age population has a job.

Quantity and quality of early years care, along with access to green spaces and parks, local leisure centres, museums and theatres, were also considered.

These are really interesting results and show how Sutton is a good place to live.

As local Councillors, we are delighted but not surprised our Borough has topped the league. We’ve got some of the best schools in the UK , it’s a very safe area and we’re one of the greenest parts of London – and there’s a real community here which makes it a great place to live and grow up. 

SOME DETAILED RESULTS

The research was conducted by Calnea Analytics in July for the Family Friendly Hotspots Report.

Top of the England and Wales list was Devon village, Winkleigh, closely followed by South Petherton in Somerset , and Galgate in Lancashire . Sutton was 20th in the England and Wales list.

London top 10

1 Sutton

2 Redbridge

3 Teddington

4 Hutton

5 East Sheen

6 Banstead

7 Bushey

8 Havering

9 Rickmansworth

10 Buckhurst Hill

To see the report, go to: www.familyinvestments.co.uk/hotspots

SUTTON STUDENTS ACHIEVE THE BEST GCSE RESULTS IN THE COUNTRY

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%

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.

VIBRANT SUTTON IS SURVING THE RECESSION

HOW IS SUTTON DOING DURING THE RECESSION ?

People often ask us, as local Councillors, how Sutton is faring during the recession. We all see evidence of the difficult times the economy as a whole is going through, including empty retail outlets.

You might therefore be interested in the analysis below, taken from figures presented to the meeting held on 12 September of the Council’s Economic Development Advisory Group, of which Richard is member.

The figures show that Sutton has a vibrant local economy which is surviving the recession well. Data for the quarter to June 2011 show:

   Sutton has the highest economic activity rate of any Borough in London . There are 106,500 economically active residents in the Borough, with an economic activity rate of 82.3% compared to 74.8% for London as a whole

   The number of long-term unemployed in Sutton is falling, with the figures for June down 15% on the previous year

   The volume of house sales and the number of planning applications (both important indicators of activity) have been rising, in the case of house sales by over 20% on the previous year’s figures. House prices have however fallen, by 2.8% on the figures for this time last year

   The number of businesses going into administration has decreased. Business failures are of course compensated for by new local business start-ups and established companies moving into the area, on which data is less reliable

   The percentage of vacant properties in the borough has decreased.

The conclusion is that Sutton is weathering the recession well. People in Sutton find it easier to find work than is the case elsewhere, and Sutton is an attractive centre for inward investment that brings development and jobs. It thus remains a growing and successful London Borough and, despite the current economic climate, is one of the most attractive places to live in the country, with good transport links to central London and beyond, plenty of green space, good leisure facilities and some of the best performing schools in the country.

Transport links are of course vitally important to our attractiveness to investors.  They also are important to the people of Sutton, many of whom commute to central London. For this reason, the threat to terminate the Capital Connect (Thameslink) services at Blackfriars, so they do not run further north of the river, is something we are personally committed to fighting. You can find a link to a petition on this issue on this website if you scroll down the posts to find “Protect Commuter Services From Sutton”.

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.

 

LOCAL MPs RAISE ALARM OVER ST HELIER’S FUTURE

The Borough’s MPs, Paul Burstow and Tom Brake, are calling for the local NHS to pause, listen and reflect over plans for a “headlong rush to merger with St George’s”.
 
The two MPs have told local and London NHS bosses that the plans for a merger with St Georges lack legitimacy because they have failed to secure support from hospital doctors, GPs and local Councils.  The MPs are stepping up the pressure by launching an on-line petition to London NHS boss, Ruth Carnell.
 
St George’s NHS Trust was the only Trust to bid for St Helier.  However, St George’s is struggling with a series of financial difficulties and recently has seen the departure of its Chief Executive.  Amidst growing concerns that St George’s will ‘asset strip’ St Helier, the Borough’s MPs want the merger process to be put on hold to give both St Helier and St George’s the time to sort themselves out and allow other NHS hospitals to come forward.
 
Paul Burstow MP said, “I have been hard-pressed to find anyone in favour of this merger plan.  Health professionals and local councillors feel bounced.  There is growing alarm at the haste with which this process is moving.
 
“The future of St Helier depends crucially on support from clinicians, without that essential goodwill, a merger will become a hostile take-over.  From my discussions with consultants, it is clear to me that the relationships between the two hospitals are toxic, hardly the basis for a genuine marriage in the public interest.
 
Tom Brake MP said, “The priority here is to get the best deal for St Helier, not the fastest one.  The Government has just completed a major national NHS listening exercise, local Health bosses must do the same; stop, pause, take on board people’s concerns and come back with a better offer.”

MORE PRESSURE ON BT

A television programme – “The Wright Stuff Extra” – broadcast on 21 July was largely shot in Cedar Road in our Ward and included an interview with Councillor Clifton standing alongside the box outside number 39 that we have asked BT to move.

Richard made the point that when Parliament agreed that BT could put the boxes anywhere without need to abide by planning controls it expected BT to be responsible. The box, placed right outside Mrs Russell’s window, is in the wrong place.

BT declined to appear on the programme but issued a statement again refusing to move the box. This is deplorable.

A post on this site (see archive for May) describes the general problem and a later post (see archive for June) describes earlier action relating to the box.

OAKLEIGH SADLY NO ALTERNATIVE TO CLOSURE

In the  debate on the proposed closure of Oakleigh at Monday night’s Council Meeting, it was clear that this was not a straight  forward matter.  There were many different angles to consider and Heather addressed them in her contribution to the debate.

“None of us can be comfortable about closing a care home for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

And one that has an excellent reputation.

I visited Oakleigh as part of the investigation by the Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee. The residents were happy and very well looked after.  Care staff  were totally committed to their work. I would be comfortable to see a relative of mine live there.

I took  therefore an challenging approach to  the scrutiny exercise we undertook  about Oakleigh.

From the outset, I was shocked at the very high weekly cost to look after each  resident.  (one thousand and twenty four pounds) £1,024.

This confirmed research I’ve read from  from the  Dept of Health.  Care homes run by councils are much more costly than those run by independent organisations.  This is a nationwide phenomenon.

In the wider context, Sutton’s grant was dramatically cut by central government.  We have to save  over £30 million over the next 3 years.  Savings of £10.5 million have to be found from the adult social care budget.

So the financial situation makes keeping an excellent, but costly,  Oakleigh less possible.

Current good practice says that people should be helped to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.  Many would prefer to do so provided the right level and quality of support is there.

As part of the personalisation agenda, introduced by the last government, everyone eligible for social care has their own budget. This is based on what their needs are assessed to be.  They should then be able to make their own choices about how to spend their money.  All this has to happen within 18 months.

This means that  it could be difficult for people to afford to stay at Oakleigh.

The key question is therefore  whether there are  other good quality care homes available in the borough?

As part of our investigation, we visited a wide range of care homes and found a wide range of quality.

The star rating system by the Care Quality Commission was not as helpful as we expected. ( now to be discontinued)  Oakleigh was given a 3 star rating.  Most care homes in the borough were given a 2 star rating.  We found that some of these were excellent, some not very good.

We therefore recommended, that the Commissioning Unit  and social workers, should work together to improve standards in those homes that had 2 stars.

We needed a Sutton based  quality assurance, reflecting our values and standards.  We could not rely on the Care Quality Commission.  That organisation is in any case changing.

We also recommended that we should challenge the regulations that prevented us from transferring the business of Oakleigh to another, independent provider.

Once again Sutton demonstrated its commitment to consultation.  It did challenge the Care Quality Commission successfully, and then went out for another 12 weeks consultation.  Few councils would take that trouble.

Unfortunately, no independent organisation was ready to bid for Oakleigh, probably because of the financial obligations   when staff are transferred from one organisation to another.

So I have reluctantly concluded that there is no alternative to closing Oakleigh.  I do realise what a blow this will be to those still living there, and to the hard working staff.  Great efforts will be made to help people find new homes.  Like my colleague I would like to say a big thank you to Link and to the dedicated staff at Oakleigh.”