PROMOTING THE SUTTON TRAMLINK

tram

Sutton Council has made public detailed plans for an extension of London Tramlink to the town. The plans were made public at a meeting on Thursday 23 May attended by Councillors, local business leaders and the Under Secretary of State for Transport, Norman Baker MP, who was at the launch event to give the project his backing. .

The planned route would run from the existing Tramlink Croydon-Wimbledon line at Merton through Rosehill and St Helier, Angel Hill, and Sutton High Street to a terminal at Sutton station. A later second phase would link the town centre to the Royal Marsden Hospital.

The tram connection would cut local journey times and costs, reduce pollution on the streets of Sutton and help regenerate areas such as the St Helier Estate by encouraging investment, improving access and widening the job market in the areas concerned.

The extension through our Ward to the Marsden hospital would be of importance as it is expected that the development of a research centre at the Marsden will create many local jobs. 

The Tramlink is a major plank in the “Opprtunity Sutton” programme, which Richard is closely involved with as vice-chair of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee.

KINGS LANE BRIDGE WORK ABOUT TO START

 

kings lane inspection 10.1.12

On the morning of 10 January Richard and Heather met some local residents and the Council’s traffic engineers at the Kings Lane bridge to inspect the proposed works and discuss the practicalities of implementation.

Following discussions wth residents, the original proposal to build out the kerb on both sides at the Hillcroome Road end (shown above) has been reduced, with a bollard and kerb build out on the left hand side in the above picture. However, there will be hatching on the road which will have the effect of moving traffic to a more central position. The overall effect will be to make the traffic coming from the Hillcroome Road end more visible to pedestrians on the bridge, and motorists will see pedestrians earlier. The signage will be replaced and improved.

Work will commence during January and there will be a traffic light system on the bridge during the period of the works.

We see this as a small but useful safety improvement.

THAMESLINK DECISION TO BE REVIEWED

Richard presenting the Petition

Our campaign to save the Thameslink loop line and ensure trains from Sutton continue to run direct to the north of London took a step forward when Sutton Councillors were involved in a delegation that met Simon Burns, Minister of State for Transport, on 26 November.  

During the meeting Mr Burns said that he had told the Department for Transport to review the decision to cut the line at Blackfriars and report back to him early in 2013.

The current plan would see the service – which links Sutton to Luton and St Albans through central and north London, calling at key stops such as the City, Farringdon and St Pancras International – severed at Blackfriars from 2018. But it transpired during the meeting that keeping the Loop Line intact would add only 28 seconds to average train times from Blackfriars, and Mr Burns told the meeting the engineering issues at Blackfriars were not insurmountable.

Richard says “We have not yet won, But I think we can take heart from the fact that the Minister is now well aware of the issue and our strong views. He has agreed that the case must be reviewed. I hope the petition I was involved in presenting at the department for Transport has added to the pressure.”

LARGEST EVER SPEED SURVEY IN SUTTON SOUTH NOW UNDERWAY

The largest scale survey of traffic speed and direction ever undertaken in Sutton South Ward is now underway.

Wires linked to computer boxes, like this instalation in Devonshire Road, have been set up at 15 different locations in the Ward, with cameras at six locations. The equipment measures the speed of a vehicle and its direction of movement.

The survey has developed from the petition relating to speeding that we presented to Sutton Council last July, signed by 77 residents of Cavendish Road. We successfully pressed for the survey to be extended from Cavendish Road to cover other local roads where speeding is a problem. The study will cover:

Cavendish Road

Christchurch Park

Cedar Road

Cumnor Road

Devonshire Road

Devonshire Avenue.

We will keep residents advised of the outcome.

BID TO OPEN SIDE ENTRANCE TO SUTTON STATION ENTERS NEW PHASE

The latest phase of our long-running campaign to open the side entrance to Sutton station has entered a new phase with the Council’s submission to Transport for London of a bid for funding under the TfL Major Projects scheme.

Sutton station is the 5th busiest in South London, and the 27th busiest in the whole of Greater London, with almost 6 million passenger movements every year. It is one of 18 stations in London identified by TfL as suffering significant congestion problems.

The main elements in the scheme would not only include opening the side entrance but extensive landscaping to improve the appearance of what would in effect be a new entrance from The Quadrant. The main elements include:

* Opening up the side entrance to the station to improve station access and egress, improve the streetscape and improve pedestrian access to the station
 * Public realm and footway improvements in The Quadrant and at the front of the station
 * Bus stop improvements at the front of the station to improve passenger experience
 * “De-cluttering” and harmonisation of street furniture and materials
* Junction and crossing improvements on walking routes to the station
 * Road safety improvements
 * Additional cycle parking and cycle lanes, and
  * Improved street lighting.

Benefits of the scheme will include reduced pedestrian journey times between the station and The Quadrant, the station car park and the Langley Park Road area, as well as reduced congestion within the station main entrance and at the barriers.

 
 
 
 

Opening the side entrance at Sutton Station would cater for the considerable demand for direct access to the station from the Quadrant House office block, which houses Reed Business Information (with approximately 2,000 employees, about one third of whom travel to work by train) and a number of other expanding companies, together with Tudor Court office block, which houses Synergy UK. The new entrance would also serve the large station car park (which Network Rail wish to expand), and the motorcycle and cycle parking areas, which generate considerable demand for access from that side of the station. There is also direct footpath access between The Quadrant and Langley Park Road and surrounding residential streets, well-used by rail passengers. These station users currently have to walk around the side to the front of the station on a convoluted route and negotiate busy footways, bus stops and the station entrance. Most of these passengers are likely to have season tickets, and opening up the side entrance would significantly reduce their journey times and congestion outside and in the entrance hall of the main station entrance.
The Council has been lobbying for the opening up of the side entrance since it was created over ten years ago with a retractable shutter. The entrance is opened up when rail replacement buses are used during engineering work, as the buses stop in The Quadrant. This demonstrates that it is possible to open up and allow passengers to use this entrance in principle. Southern support the opening in principle, subject to funding being available to provide the barriers etc. Network Rail also supports the scheme in principle and has assisted with initial business case work.
We will keep you advised of progress. 

 

DECISION ON KINGS LANE BRIDGE SAFETY PROPOSAL

We have consulted residents on our wish to see action to improve safety for pedestrians using the bridge. Given the difficulties with more radical proposals, the traffic engineers proposed building out the kerb on both sides at the intersection with Hillcroome Road. This would ensure that cars crossing from that end would start their journey across the bridge from a more central position. They would be more visible, earlier, to cars coming from the other end and to pedestrians on the bridge. The road has for some time been marked out to show where the kerb would be built out to. 

In addition, warning signs alerting drivers to the road narrowing and the presence of pedestrians will be upgraded and repositioned to make them more prominent.  

Reaction to the proposal has been generally positive but there is also support for limiting the build out to the left hand side of the road, as you face Kings Lane from Hillcroome Road. A safety study was commissioned and suggested that either option would improve the safety of the bridge.

We have decided to proceed with the reduced scheme, building out on just the left hand side. The improvement will be funded by Transport for London as a small, low-cost but helpful safety measure.

SUCCESSFUL PROGRESS ON PARKING AND TRAFFIC ISSUES

Blackbush Close

Following an important meeting with officers on 5 November, progress is now being made on a number of parking and traffic management schemes we have been progressing on behalf of residents.

BLACKBUSH CLOSE – residents approached us about the shortage of parking spaces on the Blackbush Close / Bonchurch Close estate. Following a meeting with residents last January, we agreed to pursue proposals to remove yellow lines on one side of a stretch of Blackbush Close to provide more parking spaces. This is now likely to go ahead in the New Year.

EASTLEIGH CLOSE – residents have been concerned at the difficulty of parking in their own cul-de-sac, as it is often parked up with the vehicles of people who do not live in the Close. The concerns of residents led to a major survey of views on parking across the whole of the west end of our Ward, in early 2012. The results indicate a desire for parking controls in Eastleigh Close but not elsewhere. It is proposed to hold a final consultation on a proposal to extend the Controlled Parking Zone from its current boundary at the east end of Camborne Road as far as the junction with Stanley Road, taking in Eastleigh Close.

LORRAINE COURT, CAMBORNE ROAD – some residents were concerned at the difficulty of exiting into Camborne Road if cars were parked close to and thus narrowing the entrance. We have obtained agreement for yellow lines to be put across the entrance.

We are also continuing to pursue action on the KINGS LAND BRIDGE safety improvements and speeding in CAVENDISH ROAD.

SOUTH SUTTON SPEEDING SURVEY AGREED

Richard and Heather have helped the residents of Cavendish Road to win another important battle in their bid to control speeding in their road.

And we have succeeded in extending the proposed speeding survey in Cavendish Road to cover a wider area of our south Sutton ward.

The petition on speeding in Cavendish Road, which Richard and Heather presented to Sutton Council on behalf of the residents in July, was discussed at the South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee on 11 October.

In the discussion, Richard drew attention to a speeding survey conducted in the road in 2008 which showed that even then traffic was exceeding the speed limit, on average, by a factor of over 50%. But the same survey showed problems in other local roads.

The committee agreed to a survey of the area by traffic engineers, charged with finding out the facts and coming back to the committee by next February with costed proposals for dealing with the problem.

We persuaded the committee to extend the survey to a wider area. The roads to be surveyed now are:

Cavendish Road

Christchurch Park

Cedar Road

Cumnor Road

Devonshire Road

Devonshire Avenue

Egmont Road

The committee noted that any recommendations could cost money and decisions would be needed on priorities for spending.

Richard said “This is a good result. I am pleased we are going to undertake a full survey and get the traffic engineers to look at a range of solutions.”

Heather added “I am pleased we are going to look at a wider area. Residents in Cumnor Road and Christchurch Park have also complained to us as ward Councillors about the speed of traffic in their roads.”

The petition was signed by 77 residents of Cavendish Road calling for action on the speed of traffic in their road, where a number of blocks of sheltered housing for the elderly are situated. It was presented to Sutton Council at the request of the residents by Councillors Honour and Clifton on 16 July, and referred to the local committee.

The photo above shows the Cavendish Road residents at the meeting flanked by Richard on the left and Heather on the right.

LOCAL COMMITTEE DEBATES OUR RESPONSES TO THAMESLINK CONSULTATION

Presenting our Petition

Richard and Heather called for action by the South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee to support our Thameslink campaign, when initiating a debate at the committee on 11 October.

We drew attention to the submission we had put in on behalf of local residents (go to the category of posts called “Thameslink Campaign” to see our submission) to the recent Department of Transport consultation. Councillor Mary Burstow drew attention to her submission.

We know that many of our residents, with our proximity to Sutton station being a reason to live in our Ward, commute into London every day to work. Richard and Heather themselves did this for many years. Some commute to north London and the proposal to terminate Sutton’s Capital Connect trains at Blackfriars will add more than ten minutes in each direction to their daily commute, almost two hours extra down time a week. Taken with the effect of cutting us off from international services at St. Pancras, and Luton airport, and the fact that our ability to attract businesses to Sutton has been greatly enhanced by our good transport links, this proposal has to be resisted.

The most recent stage in what will be a battle with further, continuing stages was the combined Thameslink franchise consultation on which responses were required  by mid-September.

Richard commented, in the discussion “The reputation of civil servants at the Department of Transport, following the West Coast Main Line fiasco, is not high, and having worked there during the time that I was chair of the Channel tunnel Safety Authority, I am not altogether surprised. We will need to be vigilant in watching and contributing to the further steps in this process.

I know that the way responses to consultation are analysed in the Department means that the volume of reaction is important. Councillor Honour and I put in our own response on behalf of our residents. Councillor Burstow did the same. ”

Richard made some suggestions to prepare ourselves for the further stages.

“First, I suggest that all those Councillors who put in submissions send them to the secretary so they can be included – along with his helpful note – with the papers for this meeting, so they are on the record to be used as necessary as an information quarry in further stages.

Second, we should consider, if it is appropriate at a later stage, passing a motion drawing attention to the difficulties this proposal causes for our residents, and send it to the Secretary of State, and seek a reply.

This is an important issue for our residents. On 23 August I presented a petition signed by over 5 000 residents, largely developed through Paul Burstow’s website, at the Department for Transport in Marsham Street, and the numbers wanting to sign shows how significant this is.”

NEW ACTION BY YOUR COUNCILLORS TO SAVE CROSS-LONDON TRAIN SERVICES

Richard, with Councillor Simon Wales, presents the Thameslink petition signed by Sutton South residents at the HQ of the Department for Transport

As so many Sutton South residents commute into London to work every day, and we value our direct connections to St. Pancras, the loss of our cross-London train services, if the Thameslink / Capital Connect services terminate at Blackfriars, will be a blow to local people.
On 23 August Richard joined Councillor Simon Wales, together with Liberal Democrat activists from neighbouring Boroughs, to present our petition to the Department for Transport at their Head Office in Marsham Street, Westminster. The petiton called on the Department to put a stop to these proposals.
 
September 15 is the deadline to comment on the Department for Transport’s consultation document making this proposal, following a decision by the DfT to extend the consultation period. The link to their consultation document is HERE. You can email comments to     Thameslink@dft.gsi.gov.uk
Below is our own submission.
 

Response to the Department for Transport Combined Thameslink Franchise Consultation

From Councillor Richard Clifton and Councillor Heather Honour, Liberal Democrat Councillors for Sutton South, London Borough of Sutton

1. We are the elected Liberal Democrat Councillors for Sutton South Ward, which is just south of Sutton railway station. Passengers leaving Sutton station to the south, by the side entrance (when it is open), pass into Sutton South Ward as they leave the station.

2. Our Ward is almost entirely residential and a significant number of our residents commute daily into central London for work. Many of these commuters use trains on the Thameslink Loop Line to travel to stations north of Blackfriars, including Farringdon and St. Pancras. Residents of the Ward also tell us they consider they benefit greatly from having a direct service to St. Pancras International, for Continental Europe, and Luton airport. 

3. For that reason we are concerned at the proposal, first set out in the London and South East Route Utilisation Strategy (July 2011), that all Sutton / Wimbledon Thameslink Loop Line trains will terminate at London Blackfriars from 2018.

4. Terminating Wimbledon Loop services at Blackfriars would result in our residents losing their cross-London service. This will penalise those of our residents who have made their residential, employment and educational location decisions on the basis of the existence of the cross-London Thameslink service. These residents, who chose to live in Sutton South on the basis of an existing pattern of transport connections, would lose a service that they have had for many years, and based their life around.

5. Any decision should take account of the impact of changes on the travel patterns of existing passengers, and of consequent requirements to change established travel patterns. It is because of the impact on our residents that we object to any proposal that would result in terminating Wimbledon loop trains at Blackfriars.

6. Not only would our residents lose a through service they have come to depend on, they would lose their connection with Eurostar and domestic long distance trains at St. Pancras International and Kings Cross. Instead they would have to change trains at Blackfriars, carrying possibly heavy luggage onto already crowded trains. This movement could be particularly difficult from the western bay platform when travelling north and to either bay platform when travelling south because of the platform lengths and the position of lifts and stairs at each end of the platforms. The recent Passenger Focus passenger survey found that having to change trains was a strong disincentive to train travel.

 

7. Sutton is identified in the London Plan as one of only four Metropolitan town centres in south London , with a large and growing population and employment base. It is a major business centre with many commuters and business travellers. It is therefore essential that Sutton, as a strategic south London destination, retains its connections to central and north London and beyond, and maintains its direct link to St. Pancras and the City.

 

8. We also believe that the attractiveness of Sutton to employers considering re-location away from expensive offices in central London would be affected. Sutton is a location from which one can travel to Brussels with just two train journeys, one taking 45 minutes and one two hours, and the journey to Paris is only fifteen minutes longer. We have been successful in attracting businesses to Sutton and this change would have a negative impact, particularly given the expected mushrooming of international train travel from St. Pancras over the next few years. These negative effects would impact on the residents of our Ward who want to work locally in Sutton.

9. We thus strongly object to any proposal that would result in terminating Wimbledon loop trains at Blackfriars from 2018.

10. We are aware that Sutton Council is submitting comments, and support those comments. However, we are making this submission to draw particular attention to the impact on our residents in Sutton South Ward.

RICHARD CLIFTON

HEATHER HONOUR

  Liberal Democrat Councillors for Sutton South, London Borough of Sutton