The Liberal Democrats achieved a swing of 12% to the LibDems from the Tories in the by-election in Belmont Ward. The by-election was caused by the resignation – still unexplained – of one of the Tory Councillors who had stood for election as recently as last May. The Ward is the safest Tory seat in the borough so a shock LibDem victory was never on the cards, but LibDem Councillors take great satisfaction in the movement of opinion towards the LibDems.
SOUTH SUTTON, CHEAM AND BELMONT LOCAL COMMITTEE
On 13 September the Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee met and discussed an agenda somewhat reduced from the agenda originally planned due to the “purdah” requirements following the announcement that there will be a Council by-election in Belmont Ward. No indication was given as to why Councillor McManus, previously a member of the committee, had resigned. Matters discussed included:
– we heard an interesting presentation on the work of the parks police, who are diligent in pursuing and preventing anti-social behaviour in our parks
– we agreed to set in chain consultation on an action plan to improve Overton Park
– we confirmed decisions to install speed awareness signs in Cedar Road, which is notorious for speeding, to complement those in Farm Road and those planned for Grange Road and Worcester Road
– we noted a number of improvements to Sutton South Ward, including re-painting of the railings at two places in Brighton Road and the modification of the width restriction at Grange Vale.
The first full Council meeting of the new administration, following the local elections, was held on 10 September. It was held at Overton Grange school, in Sutton South Ward, the first time the Council has met in our Ward, This follows a decision by Council to get out and about round the Borough, to see the Borough and be seen, rather than sit in the Council offices.
The main debate was on the subject of single use plastics, on which Trish made an impassioned speech drawing attention to the plight of the oceans anc calling for greater responsibility worldwide. Richard took the opportunity of a debate on the Council’s plan to welcome Councillors to Sutton South. He said:
“We are now doing something we perhaps should have done before and getting out round the Borough, to see different parts of the Borough and be seen there. And tonight we are starting that process by meeting in Sutton South Ward. So I think it appropriate for me as a Councillor for Sutton South to welcome you all to Sutton South. I know my fellow Sutton South Councillor Councillor Fivey wants to join me in extending this welcome, to Sutton South which is famous for:
A low level of crime, one of the lowest for any Ward in the 32 London Boroughs
Excellent schools, our local schools are brilliant
A unique environmental facility in the Devonshire Avenue Nature Area
A green, pleasant, suburban environment
And a relatively high level of employment, contributed to by our success in persuading a major transnational company in the oil exploration business – Subsea 7 – to locate their global, international headquarters in the Ward, bringing 900 jobs, some – not just in more routine occupations – now being occupied by local people, with 900 staff spending money in local shops and restaurants, and boosting the local economy.
I relate this to the important entry in the plan on page 17 reading
“Implementation of the Local Plan to deliver retail, office and industrial development and employment opportunities”
We have done that in Sutton South – we will continue to do it.”
We remain concerned to reduce speeding in the Ward and the width restriction at Grange Vale was a measure to ensure vehicles slowed when passing under the bridge, to protect the safety of pedestrians walking on the narrow pavement, towards Brighton Road.
Residents suggested that as there is a slight right turn just as you pass through the restriction the standard width for such a restriction, of six feet six inches, was too narrow. In response the width restriction has been widened very slightly.
Richard is seeking action on the mindless vandalism that has plagued Warren Park recently, with damage to the fencing around the nature reserve area of the park. Though just outside our Ward, the park is used by many of our residents, particularly joggers, dog walkers and those caring for small children. Richard often takes his three year old grandson there. The mentality of people who would damage the fence in this way is disturbing. The park includes a walk alongside the two railway lines that run into Sutton station but a part is fenced off to protect wildlife and provide a nature area.
We have been discussing possible improvements to Overton Park. It is not in our Ward but adjacent, so much used by many of our residents.
The park is mainly given over to playing fields, with a pavilion and a children’s play area. It is well used by joggers. It was in the distant past the playing fields of the London County Council and passed to Sutton Council when Mrs Thatcher abolished the LCC. It is flat and might be improved by tree planting or perhaps more daffodil bulbs. Sadly, some trees planted last year were vandalised. Might the metal “trim trail” equipment spread around the park be better used if it was brought together at one place?
We would like to invite ideas. Do contact us if you have a view, at email@example.com.
The “Speed Awareness Signs” that warn motorists of their speed are very effective. We are finalising arrangements to instal more of these signs, in Grange Road and in Cedar Road.
Locations have been agreed for the new speeding signs the Council will instal in Cedar Road. They will be slightly different from the ones in Farm Road, pictured, One sign in each direction, they will warn motorists of their speed as they approach the Langley Park Road junction. A study in 2012 found cars regularly speed in Cedar Road despite the humps and 20 mph speed limit. But residents were unhappy with a proposal for a width restriction. A re-arrangement of the parking places and the zebra crossing at the Brighton Road end have been of some help in slowing the traffic. Last year Richard took part in a police “Speedwatch” operation to record the speed of speeding vehicles in the road and was surprised at the speed some vehicles reached.
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.