A lot going on in the Ward at the moment – the Council continues its programme of repairs to the potholes that were caused by the hard winter (which seems a long time ago now). This one in Langley Park Road. And repairs to the chain fence in Christchurch Park at the junction with Brighton Road, with repainting.
We have said that one of our objectives is to protect the Ward from inappropriate development.
At Sutton Council’s Planning Committee on 6 June Richard spoke in support of two residents from Allon Court in Eaton Road in a bid to overturn a recommendation from officers to permit the erection of a further storey on the roof of the block of flats, though the block is occupied and this would have been disruptive to residents. The developer wanted to erect a penthouse on the flat roof of the building.
The higher building would also have blocked the light of residents in Cumnor Road.
After a wide ranging debate, Richard and the residents persuaded the Committee to reject the application. Sadly, this may not be the end of the story if the developer goes to appeal – see our story below.
At the next meeting of the Planning Committee, on 4 July, Richard again persuaded the Committee to reject an application officers had recommended they accept, this to extend a house in Mayfield Road, The Highfields Residents’ Association had raised objection.
Officers have rejected a plan to demolish a house at 87 The Ridgway and build a small estate. Richard and Trish campaigned against this proposal,
The width restriction in Grange Vale slows the traffic to protect pedestrians passing under the bridge, but we are going to slightly widen the gap for cars (moving the right bollard slightly further right or the left bollard further left, by about an inch). We were surprised when, at the first Local Committee meeting (the South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee) since the election, at Overton Grange school, on 21 June, the big issue of the evening turned out to be whether the width restriction should be modified by moving the left hand post an inch to the left or the right hand post an inch to the right. A decision was left to the traffic engineers.
Above, the new low energy lights being installed, these in Cavendish Road.
Below, the new tree replacing one that was vandalised (also pictured), in Willis Avenue. Note the protection against vandals.
We regret that local democracy has again been overruled by the remote Planning Inspectorate, based in Bristol. The proposed development of 81 and 83 Langley Park Road to demolish the houses and build a block of nine flats was turned down by Sutton Council but then granted on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.
The concerns of the Council largely related to design. We expect high quality standards of development in our Ward and could envisage a much more attractive development if this proposal was to go ahead. There were also issues about car parking, traffic and congestion, largely dismissed by the Inspector in his report.
Our concern is with the outcome but also with the system. The Planning Inspectorate seems to us to have a bias in favour of development, come what may, and it seems wrong that local decisions taken by locally elected Councillors reflecting a local plan can be overturned with no further right of appeal.
While this is a disappointing outcome, we will, as your local Councillors, continue to seek acceptable standards in proposals for development in the Ward.
At the annual Council meeting where the new Mayor is elected, on 21 May, Richard and Trish got new jobs. Richard is to chair the new Audit and Governance Committee while Trish is a member of the important Housing, Economy and Business Committee. Steve Cook, who was Deputy Mayor when Richard was Mayor in 2016, was elected Mayor. Richard moved the nomination. This is his speech.
“Madame Mayor, I wanted to begin my remarks by echoing what many others have said about the grace, dignity, hard work and commitment you have brought, with Councillor Heron, to the Mayoralty this year.
So let me turn now to another Councillor who, I know, will bring commitment and hard work to the Mayoralty in this coming year, if Council accepts my nomination tonight.
It gives me great pleasure to nominate, to be Mayor of the London Borough of Sutton for the year 2018-19, Councillor Steve Cook.
I cannot resist beginning by saying that if you do accept this nomination it will be the second time in three years that the Mayor of Sutton has been a Muswell Hillbilly, as Steve and I discovered we share a common birthplace, a maternity hospital (sadly later demolished) in Alexandra Park Road in Muswell Hill, in north London. And for those too young to recognise the reference, “I’m a Muswell Hillbilly” is a song made famous by The Kinks pop group, who hail from Muswell Hill, and famous Muswell Hillbillies include Steve and myself, obviously, Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks, Adam Ant and Alvin Stardust – so a really distinguished company of people.
Let me tell you about Steve. Steve was born on the Queen’s coronation day, so every birthday is the anniversary of the Coronation, of Sir Edmund Hillary climbing Everest and of the D-Day landings.
He left school as a teenager after the tragic death of his father and after he had himself suffered a major, life threatening illness. He became a runner in the Soho film business and was such a great success that by the 1980s he had his own large scale, thriving post production studios, in Soho, in London, and in Los Angeles.
But Steve is a drummer, and in a particular milieu, Steve is famous, famous for the Steve Cook Soul Band, formed in 1975. The Steve Cook Soul Band was effectively the “house” band at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane for over twenty years, the industry favourite for charity balls and awards ceremonies, performing at numerous awards and film industry functions.
I am told that at its height it had 17 members including musicians and go-go dancers.
There are many stories about the band. There is a story that in the 1980s they played at the Istanbul Advertising Awards ceremony, followed by a live televised gig at the Istanbul Hilton, and an international incident was narrowly avoided when the skimpily clad go-go dancers were featured on the front page of the Turkish equivalent of the News of the World.
The band lasted from 1975 until its last gig in 2010 – 35 glorious years.
Steve became a Councillor in 2015 after being Chair of the local residents’ association which successfully campaigned against a huge McDonalds drive-through in Wallington.
Now in some London Boroughs there is a tradition that whoever is Deputy Mayor one year then becomes Mayor the following year. We have not constrained ourselves in that way in Sutton but of course Steve was, with Councillor Patel, Deputy Mayor just over a year ago, so he has the experience to avoid the traps and be a great Mayor. And his wife Pauline, who had a distinguished career in education in Sutton – headteacher at Robin Hood infants school for twenty years and at Thomas Wall Nursery school for eight year – brought great dedication to the role of Deputy Mayoress, and will be an excellent Mayoress.
Madame Mayor, I nominate Councillor Steve Cook.”
The Council have pruned the cotoneasters at the triangle where Mayfield Road and The Ridgway join Farm Road. Periodic pruning is an essential part of the maintenance programme for these shrubs, and if they grow too high it affects visibility for motorists. The pruning always looks severe and has a stark impact, but these shrubs are robust and grow again quickly. The snow on the day they were pruned makes the impact look particularly severe – contrast these pictures of the triangle on the day after the pruning and the triangle last summer.
Cedar Road has a 20 mph limit but drivers often exceed it. On the last day of February Richard joined local police officers and Jack Hamilton, the former chair of the South Sutton Neighbourhood Association, in checking speeds with a “speed gun.” Those exceeding the speed limit will get a warning letter and action will escalate if they are caught again.
The last two winters have been fairly mild with not much snow, so many of us who collected free grit under the Council’s scheme to distribute free grit against icy weather in the last two years have still got the grit. This winter is, by contrast, proving severe and the cold weather at the end of February is demonstrating to all of us the value of the grit distribution scheme.
Trish and Richard were members of the task group that drafted the new local plan for Sutton. After going through a process of public review by a Government Inspector, the plan was presented to and agreed by the Housing, Economy and Business Committee on 13 February. Richard addressed the Committee on what he saw as the virtues of the plan. The plan was endorsed by Council on 26 February and Richard again addressed the meeting, reminding Councillors that the process of public review – which can lead to major revision of such plans – left it virtually unscathed. The core policies of the plan survived without alteration, and are the central policies that have helped us maintain the pleasant, green, suburban character of Sutton our residents cherish. This is evidence of the strength of the document.
The plan supports development that is in keeping with the best in our local environment – preserving the green, suburban feel of Sutton while meeting the aspiration to have homes for our children to grow up here. The plan promotes good quality design, school places, the London Cancer Hub, surgeries, the protection of pubs, parks and open spaces, and minimum standards for housing. It also strengthens the protection of Conservation Areas and Areas of Special Local Character. It is our plan for a successful Sutton.