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.”

ACTION BY LIBERAL DEMOCRAT COUNCILLORS LEADS TO EXTENSION OF “NO DRINKING” ZONE TO OUR WARD

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[ The corner of Cedar Road and Brighton Road, where drinkers sometimes congregate. This picture shows Sutherland House – it is hoped that the seat outside Sutherland House can be restored if the problems associated with public drinking in this area can be dealt with ]

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Sutton Council has extended what is popularly called the “No Drinking” zone to our Ward.

Even before we were elected, we were aware of the concerns of local residents and the problems of anti-social behaviour associated with a group of what are sometimes called “all day drinkers”. These people often congregated at the Brighton Road / Cedar Road intersection. 

Following a number of discussions that we, as Ward Councillors, had with the Council Executive member responsible for public order matters, Councillor Graham Tope, the Council has taken steps in a policy direction that we have advocated, to deal with the problem.

At present, the town centre in Sutton is a “Designated Public Place” – popularly called a “No Drinking” zone.  An effect is that the group of people who drink on the street for much of the day congregated just outside the zone, in particular at the street corner at the end of Cedar Road where it meets the Brighton Road. This is close to Forest Dene Court, a large block of flats for elderly people, some of whom have expressed to us their concern about this group of drinkers. Now, the Council has extended the zone to cover an area of Sutton South Ward.

The area covered is a square bordered by Cedar Road, Langley Park Road, Egmont Road and the Brighton Road. The police were able to provide evidence of anti-social behaviour associated with drinking to justify including this area in the zone. Now the zone is extended to this area, the police will monitor the effect. If the problem is simply displaced to a different area, consideration can be given to a further extension.  

The legal effect of the Designated Public Places Order is that if someone is drinking alcohol in public in this area the police can ask them to stop. If they do not stop, they are guilty of an offence.

The designation of the Sutton South zone was subject to public consultation. Statutory notices were placed in newspapers and on relevant websites on 11 January. Representations could be made during the consultation period, which ended on 7 February. A second statutory notice was published. The order came into force on 15 March 2011.

As your local Councillors, we are delighted with these developments, which we have pressed for, with the Council. We have had the support of the local police and the Sutton South police consultative committee (whose activities are reported elsewhere on this website, on the page on police matters). As a result of this development the police will be able to spend less time dealing with the anti-social behaviour associated with public drinking and spend more time on their two other priorities for our Ward, car crime and drug dealing.

When the results of the new measures are clear, we hope it will then be possible to restore the seat outside Sutherland House, which was removed as it became associated with public order problems caused by this group of people.

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.

TRUE GRIT – HOW WE FARED DURING THE COLD AND SNOW

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[ Snow in The Ridgway – click on any of the photos on this site to see them full size ]

The cold weather and snow in December was a massive challenge for the gritting teams of Sutton Council. As your local Councillors, we received many enquiries concerning the gritting of particular roads. We were in frequent contact with the gritting teams.

While it is inevitable that there will be roads that have not been gritted as frequently as some residents would like, the gritting teams made heroic efforts. We would like to pay particular credit to duty manager Mick Carter and his team. Mick and his team worked virtually round the clock, getting home in the early hours of the morning, during the snowy weather. We alerted Mick to a request from some elderly residents at Hampton Lodge, a block of flats for people aged over 60 and where some residents are over 90, in Cavendish Road, in Sutton South Ward. After a strenous evening gritting, a gritting machine arrived at Hampton Lodge at 1.30 in the morning. It was found that the machine was too large to get through the gates of Hampton Lodge so the driver backed the vehicle in as far as it could go and spread as much grit as possible, before putting down a mass of grit on the pavement and the road outside, so that when people left the premises they would be walking on a secure surface. Well done! Mick was still working at almost 4am when he emailed Councillor Honour to tell her what had been done. Councillor Honour  said to Mick “on behalf of myself, Richard Clifton and the residents of South Sutton Ward can I say a big thank you to you and all your team. The fact that you were working at 3.56am shows the grit and determination of the whole team.”

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[ The gritting team with Councillors Honour and Clifton. Team members Mateus Malczuk, Lee Hunt, Graham Murray and Mick Carter are in the picture. The other member team member is Przemyseaw Szczygiel. ]

Priority is given to the main and through roads, and to roads used by buses. This meant that for most of the period of snowfall the “hail and ride” “S” buses continued to run through Sutton South Ward, though the S4 was suspended for a short period by the bus company.

The new grit bins at many locations in Sutton South Ward, and the Council’s arrangements for distributing grit, came just in time and helped. 

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Please note that the story that you could be sued if you cleared the snow from the front of your house and then someone slipped when the area iced over again, is a complete urban myth. There is no record of anyone being successfully sued in these circumstances. We want to encourge everyone in Sutton South to consider clearing the pavement in front of their house, if able to do this (not everyone can and please don’t take risks if it’s too much hard labour in the cold), as their contribution to “The Big Society”. 

Please get in touch with us if there is anything you want the Council to do if the cold and snowy weather returns.

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[ Gritting takes place in the early hours.  This picture was taken in The Ridgway]

MORE GRIT BINS

Plans to deal with the cold weather include facilities for residents to collect grit, advertised on the Council website, and many more grit bins all over Sutton South Ward. Here is a selection of the bins. In the cold weather they have been emptied by local residents many times over, and the gritting teams have commented to us that they are emptied almost as fast as they are filled. But that means they are being used for their proper purpose and being of benefit to local people.

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The bin in Ventnor Road,  at the start of the slope (slippery in cold weather),  put in at the request of residents.

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The bin in Hillcroome Road, put in following a request to Councillor Clifton from a resident.

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The bin at the middle of Downside Road, which is a hill (there is also a bin at the top), put in after a request to Councillor Clifton from residents.

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The bin at the end of Devonshire Avenue.

SUTTON SOUTH GETS PRIORITY STATUS

Thanks to the efforts of Councillors Heather Honour and Richard Clifton, on Thursday evening  18th November members of the Sutton South, Belmont and Cheam Local Committee acknowledged the need for extra play areas for children and young people in South Sutton ward. Following a question raised by resident Mrs Ceri Schillinger and interventions by Councillor Honour,  the committee agreed to investigate how to improve outdoor play areas for children in the ward.  Sutton South has only one safe outdoor playing area for children, the  small Devonshire Avenue Nature Reserve. In recent years, when the Local Committee had only Conservative councillors as members, Sutton South ward lost out to Cheam and Belmont and did not receive its fair share of  “public realm” funding available.  Now, with three Lib Dem councillors ( Heather, Richard, and Mary Burstow in Cheam) the committee is waking up to the needs of all its residents.

Councillor Honour said, “We want to hear what play schemes the people of Sutton South would like their children to have.  Of course we do not have much space so we will need to as creative as possible, but I am glad this subject is on the agenda at last”