NEWS ON TRAFFIC SCHEMES

The Council has been taking legal advice on a recent High Court judgement against the Mayor of London which indicated that London Boroughs were misdirected and should not have been prevented from consulting in advance of implementing the “low traffic neighbourhoods schemes” introduced across London last autumn. Last year, the Mayor and the Conservative Government required Councils to move at pace to introduce these schemes and only consult after the measures were in place. We told them at the time that this was a mistake. We have been proven right. 

Sutton Council has concluded that in the light of the legal case all schemes have to be removed. We are disappointed as some schemes were working well, but we have no choice given the legal judgement. We are angry at Transport for London, who required introduction of the schemes without consultation but were so inattentive to the legal requirements that they left themselves open to legal challenge. The result is the withdrawal of the schemes.

In our Ward this affects three interventions, all of which were six month trials – the “school street” at Overton Grange school (to close the road to traffic for a short period as students arrive and leave to create a more peaceful and safe environment at the start and end of the school day), the 20 mph speed limit in roads east of Mayfield Road, and the closure of Kings Lane. The legal case means all three will have to be discontinued.

Of these interventions, the 20 mph limit was supported by residents in the Council’s “Streetspace” consultation, and we are pursuing how it might be restored in due course. This is not the end of the process. We remain committed to reducing traffic and pollution on residential roads and would very much welcome your views and suggestions. Drop us an email.

We will keep residents advised concerning future action. Stories that have been put round about other, new, road closures have no foundation.

UPGRADING OF ACCOMMODATION IN CEDAR ROAD

Richard in Cedar Road at the “Speedwatch” check on vehicle speeds, with the police

On February 3 Richard spent the evening tuned in to a “virtual” meeting of the Council’s Planning Committee and spoke to the committee about our concerns regarding a planning application for 27 Cedar Road. He spoke alongside a local resident who voiced similar concerns to ours. Our worry was about the overlooking of neighbouring properties due to extension of the building upwards with balconies that would overlook neighbours. The committee has a tradition of not voting along party lines, and had indeed earlier in its meeting thrown out a planning application relating to a building in Wallington recommended by officers for approval. The planning application for Cedar Road was, however, approved, by four votes to three with four abstentions. We will keep an eye on the progress of the building work.

Richard says “I have been inside this building, which is a former nurses’ home (accommodation for nurses at a local hospital) and is a “house in multiple occupation” with 31 small bed sitting rooms. It is not good quality accommodation, certainly in need of upgrading and money being spent on improving the building, so that is one positive aspect of the decision.”

SUTTON COUNCIL LENDS SUPPORT TO OUR PROPOSAL FOR CHANGES TO LOCAL BUS ROUTES

Transport for London (TfL) are proposing to make changes to local bus routes, including the S1, S3, S4, 80 and 407.

To find out more, including maps of all the routes affected, visit Transport for London’s website: tfl.gov.uk/sutton-croydon-bus-changes 

Trish and Richard have promoted a proposal put forward by Keith Percy of the Highfields Residents’ Association to extend the new S3 bus route so that it runs from Sutton station along Cedar Road to Eaton Road, then returning to Sutton station. This will be of value to residents in the east of our Ward. They have ensured that Sutton Council, in its formal response to the consultation, takes up this idea. The Council’s response says:

“The changes in the S3 and 413 will mean that the those who live in the Cedar Rd area near Sutton Station in South Sutton will no longer be on the S3 bus route and will not be on the 413 because its focus will change to further down Sutton High Street. However, Sutton South councillors, residents’ groups and the Sutton South Local Committee, support starting and ending the new S3 bus route in Eaton Rd reached via Cedar Road, to take account of this.”

Whether this proposal is accepted depends, of course, on Tfl.

TfL propose that there will be more buses serving the Sutton Hospital site (the Cancer Hub and the Harris Academy school) including a new S2 (which replaces some parts of the S4 route in Belmont and roads west of Brighton Road, and stops at St Helier Station). They propose that the 80 will be a double decker and will no longer serve the prisons, and the S1 will run with longer buses. 

The consultation closed on 20 December 2020 and we await the final decisions of TfL.

TWO IMPORTANT VICTORIES IN THE QUEST TO MAINTAIN THE QUALITY OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE WARD

Northumberland House viewed from Brighton Road

Trish and Richard, in their quest to maintain the quality of building in our Ward, have recently been involved in two important victories.

First, the Planning Inspectorate, have thrown out an awful application to build two houses in back garden land at 87 The Ridgway. The Inspector placed much emphasis on the incongruity of such a development in an Area of Special Local Character and commented “my assessment [is] that it would be an incongruous and alien form of development in the open rear garden environment.”

Second, last June Criterion Capital, the owners of Northumberland House, sought planning permission to add two storeys to the top of the building. Their application has been refused by Sutton Council. Northumberland House is the tower block at the corner of Brighton Road and Wellesley Road, about 200 yards along Brighton Road if you turn left when coming out of Sutton station.

Richard says “This proposal to put an extra two storeys on top of the building was hideous in terms of design. I am glad it has been thrown out.”

The owner sought planning permission to extend the building, creating a further 36 flats by having two extra storeys on the ten storey part of the building and an extra storey on the lower part, with some additional flats in the”undercroft” above the parking area. A few of the 47 parking spaces would be lost, due to a need for additional bin space.

The application was turned down on the basis of design of the proposed tower extension and the lack of window openings within some of the proposed units.

We had noted that there would be some positives, such as the creation of a community amenity and play space on the tarmaced area at ground floor level. However, while there is a shortage of accommodation in London and more housing is needed, we were concerned that the building work has the potential to be disruptive to the lives of current residents. Also, an extra two storeys on top of the building would look incongruous and clearly out of keeping with the design of the rest of the building.

Residents of Northumberland House were concerned about the likely disruption involved in this proposed work, and have long standing concerns about frequent lift breakdowns in the building, and security. We know that, Sutton Council having refused planning permission, the developer has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which, we find, often sides with developers on applications such as this. One thing we can do as local Councillors is to identify conditions that will protect the interests of residents, and that we will try to get built into any planning permission they eventually obtain. For example, we can seek to ensure there is a construction management plan to control hours of work and control noise and dust nuisance. We can ask that the contractor joins the Considerate Contractors Scheme, which provides a route for residents to raise concerns if they observe poor behaviour. We can seek conditions that will require that access to the roof areas is only by external hoists, and that the peace and quiet of the interior of the building is not disturbed or the interior turned into a storage area, or building site.

FREE SCHOOL MEALS FOR HUNGRY CHILDREN

Trish and Richard were horrified by the indifference of the Government

Trish and Richard were delighted that Sutton Council ensured children did not go hungry over the school winter holiday period by providing support for families whose children go to Sutton schools and are eligible for Free School Meals.

The provision followed on from the scheme developed for the October half term, but supported a much wider group of children, young people and families, including: 

  • children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 registered to receive free school meals at the school they attend.
  • children in Year 3 onwards from low income families receiving benefits (Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support, Child Tax Credits, Universal Credit and some other benefits).
  • children aged 2 and receiving the free childcare entitlement.
  • children aged 3 and 4 attending an early years setting and receiving the Early Years Pupil Premium.

Parents/carers of children that are registered for free school meals at their school did not need to apply – their school (whether in the London Borough of Sutton or in another Local Authority area) distributed vouchers to eligible families directly. This applied for the vast majority of pupils eligible for the voucher.

At half-term, during the autumn term, Richard and Trish were horrified that the Conservative Government refused to back Free School Meals for hungry children during the half term break. Liberal Democrat-run Sutton Council stepped in to provide Free School Meals for local children during the holidays. This new scheme, over the Christmas holidays, follows on from that earlier provision.

Footballer Marcus Rashford has spearheaded the campaign that brought national attention to children living in food poverty.  

We are disappointed that our local Conservative MP Paul Scully refused to support Free School Meals. Paul Scully callously dismissed Free School Meals on live television, claiming “Children have been going hungry under a Labour government for years”.

Local councils are under huge financial pressure across the country, with the Government only providing half the funding required to support additional COVID-19 related services. It was not true that the Council was funded to provide free school meals at half term. That funding was received back in July for families who needed extra support and had to be allocated within twelve weeks. It wasn’t nearly enough at the time and it certainly wasn’t intended to cover the cost of feeding hungry school children at half term in October. However, the Liberal Democrats in Sutton were determined to ensure no child went hungry.

PARKING PERMIT SCHEME SUPPORTED IN CONSULTATION COMES INTO OPERATION

The Sutton South Parking Permit Area came into force on Monday 30 November. The scheme had been subject to several rounds of consultation. Earlier proposals were thrown out by the residents but the scheme now implemented, after further consultation, won broad support. In the final round of consultation a majority of those responding, in every road that the scheme covers, supported the proposal, often by large majorities, as the following figures show:

Chalgrove Road – 76% support

The Ridgway – 70% support

Mayfield Road – 68% support

Upland Road – 87% support

The scheme covers, broadly, roads east of Langley Park Road as far as Banstead Road South. So Chalgrove Road, Mayfield, The Ridgway, Farm Road, Farm Close, Upland, Downside, Kayemoor, Willis Avenue and Prior Avenue. It prohibits parking in the road between 9 am and 11 am on weekdays unless you are a resident of the area and display a parking permit on your car. It means that those (including Richard) who need to park a vehicle in the road between 9 and 11 am on weekdays need to have obtained a parking permit. All residents can obtain a supply of visitors’ permits. 

It has long been recognised that clearing the parked cars from roads such as Mayfield Road will lead to speeding. This is one of the reasons why, at the same time, a six month trial of making this area a 20 mph speed limit area is underway.

Richard comments “I have lived in The Ridgway, in our Ward, for 32 years, and can remember that way back then neighbours said it was a great place to live but the parking was a problem. A few years back the Council bravely seized this nettle – I say bravely as it is a divisive and complex issue with zealots on every side of the argument. The first set of proposals were rejected by the residents but, after a lot of further study of the responses to consultation, a scheme was devised that has won widespread support. I regard this as a success for the parking consultation strategy.”

On the first morning of operation of the scheme Richard walked round the area to check that the “hats” over the signs had all been removed. There was a big sweep of enforcement officers through the area to “ticket” cars unlawfully parked, but these people just got a warning letter rather than a fine.

The scheme is subject to a six month review. We have not learned of problems with the scheme but let us know if any arise that you are aware of.

COUNCIL CONCERNS AT THE MAJOR THREAT TO DEMOCRATIC DECISION-TAKING IN OUR WARD

Local consultation on planning proposals is vital to maintain standards of build and design, and the street scene

At the meeting of Sutton Council on 23 November – the first Council meeting chaired by Trish as our Mayor – Council passed a motion expressing concern at the threat to democratic decision taking from the proposals of the Government to change the planning system.

Councillors noted that the proposals would lead to automatic approval of many developments with the voice and opinions of local people removed from the planning system. The requirements for new developments to include affordable housing would be severely eroded and the housing target for new building in Sutton increased from 427 units to 1122 units. This latter figure is impossible to achieve without massive increases in the density of housing, undermining the pleasant, green, suburban feel of Sutton.

As local Councillors, we have always been active in looking at planning applications in our Ward and opposing those not good enough to meet our high standards in Sutton. Recently we have been active on proposals in Brighton Road, The Ridgway and Hillcroome. Some proposals that we thought objectionable have been turned down, including putting two stories on the top of Northumberland House. If you scan down the posts on this website you will find numerous examples of planning applications where we have joined with local residents to get improvements or oppose what developers are proposing. It is our claim that since the last local election every time we have taken an application to Planning Committee because we thought it not good enough we have got the proposal rejected.

But now there is a major threat – the proposals of the Government to “reform” planning law are likely to, in many cases, remove the requirements for local consultation on planning proposals and act as a developers’ charter. We want to retain a system that, while it has defects, lets local people have a democratic say on what is built locally. It is too important a right for us to lose. 

READY FOR COLD WEATHER

Ready for the snow

LET US KNOW IF THERE IS A GRIT BIN IN YOUR ROAD THAT NEEDS TOPPING UP.

Richard and Trish have worked hard to ensure that there are plenty of grit bins at strategic places in the Wards. We need to know if they need topping up with grit.

Yet again this year Sutton Council offered residents and businesses 10kg of free grit per household/business to collect from Denmark Road Car Park, Carshalton. This year a booking system and a number of other changes had to be introduced to help the operation run safely and in accordance with Government guidelines designed to contain the spread of COVID-19. Anyone visiting had to have a valid booking to be allowed access to the site.  

Residents could also collect grit for elderly friends and neighbours or others who don’t have cars. 

LET US KNOW IF THERE IS A GRIT BIN NEAR YOU THAT NEEDS TOPPING UP.

REMEMBERING THE FALLEN IN WAR

pond and memorial straight

On Remembrance Sunday, November 8, Trish – our Mayor – led the brief service at the war memorial at Carshalton ponds, to remember the fallen. Due to the COVID restrictions, the traditional service was kept very brief this year.

Richard attended the service and laid a wreath.

Sadly, the event normally held in Manor Park, at which Richard played the Last Post last year, was called off due to the COVID restrictions.