PARKING AT THE EAST END OF THE WARD

Councillors Clifton and Honour have asked for the agenda for the next meeting of the Sutton South, Belmont and Cheam Local Committee, to be held on 26 May at St. Dunstan’s school in Cheam, to include discussion of the progress of consultation on parking controls in Belmont Ward. The Committee’s membership comprises the Councillors for Cheam, Belmont and Sutton South Wards – three Liberal Democrats and nine Conservatives.

This study has a long history but has only been mentioned at meetings of the Local Committee, since we were elected, in a paper presented to the Committee in January, when it was described as a study of parking “in the Belmont station area and roads around/near to the Royal Mardsen Hospital.” It has consequently been handled by Belmont Ward Councillors. However the area to be covered by the consultation in fact extends to the borders of Sutton South Ward.

Most of Sutton South Ward is already covered by parking controls. Since we joined the local committee we have:

– supported a consultation with residents at Westmoreland Drive on yellow lining to achieve better access, following a fire and fatality in which access for emergency vehicles may have been an issue

– supported a number of changes to the designation of parking bays, for example to provide for more parking in Cavendish Road for the residents of and visitors to Fiske Court, a sheltered housing complex.

There are nine roads at the east end of the Ward not covered by controls – Mayfield Road, The Ridgway, Chalgrove Road, Farm Road, Upland Road, Downside Road, Kayemoor Road, Willis Avenue and Prior Avenue. If the results of consultation in Belmont Ward lead to new parking controls that could displace parking into our Ward, we will want the Local Committee to consider funding  a consultation exercise in the Ward to cover the roads at the east end.

COUNCILLOR CLIFTON TAKES ON NEW RESPONSIBILITES

At the annual Council meeting on 23 May, the meeting at which the new Mayor is elected, the Council confirmed appointments to its committees for the next year.

Councillor Clifton, who is already a member of the Audit Committee and chairs the Sutton Joint Health and Safety Committee (which discusses health and safety at work issues with recognised trade unions), has taken on two important additional responsibilities, as a member of the Council’s Economic Development Advisory Group and its Planning Advisory Group.

He has transferred from the Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee (which Councillor Honour continues to be a member of) to the Sustainable Communities Scrutiny Committee, reflecting his strong interest in environmental matters.

He also represents the Council on a number of other committees, ranging from the Downlands Project Steering Group to the board of the Friends of Whitehall, appointments which are listed in the page on this site entitled “Richard’s Blog.”

Richard said “I hope these additional responsibilities are in recognition of a reputation I have gained during my first year as a Councillor for hard work, energy and a thoughtful approach to the many issues that confront us.”

UGLY COMPUTER BOXES – IS THERE ONE NEAR YOU ?

Residents have contacted us about the ugly computer boxes erected in our Ward, such as the one shown below. While there are many of these green computer boxes on our street corners, a new generation of much larger and more obtrusive boxes is now being installed.

A post elsewhere on this site deals with a specific problem of the box in Cedar Road.

We need these boxes to improve broadband speeds. But Openreach (a subsidiary of BT), who install them, do not need planning permission or to take any notice of the aesthetic and amenity aspects of the erection of the boxes. This is by Act of Parliament and the local Council is helpless.

We are collecting information. Is there a box near you ? Is it sensibly sited ? Let us know.

This box, in Cedar Road, is badly sited, right outside someone’s front window. A post elsewhere on this site deals with this particular problem.

You can see how this is right in front of the house.

This one in Cornwall Road (not in our Ward) has been placed in front of the house and right in the attractive hedgerow lovingly cultivated by the residents. It could as easily have been a few feet away round the corner and giving no offence.

Research by Councillor Clifton has shown that these are not isolated incidents and across London there is increasing concern at the lack of consultation and the poor decisions involved in siting these boxes. Further afield, there are examples of local campaigns in places as far apart as Brighton (see the Brighton Argus, 26 May) and Dundee (the Dundee Courier, April 14).

Openreach have “Permitted Development Rights” and, according to the Council’s Planning Department, “Permitted Development Rights” exist provided that the ground or base area does not exceed 1.5 square metres (with only a height restriction of being no more than 15 metres off the ground – if unattached to a building). This is set out under the Electronic Communications Code (Conditions and Restrictions) Regulations 2003 and Part 24 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(Amendment)(England) Order 2001. The only check by the Council is that there is no impediment such as buried cables and, if not, the Council has no power to stop the development.

Councillor Clifton said “Parliament, in granting these powers to bypass planning law, would have expected the company to behave responsibly in considering the impact on local residents.”

Openreach have disclosed to Councillor Clifton the full list of criteria used when siting boxes. This is printed below.

Councillor Clifton has told them that the criteria are defective in that nothing is said about not erecting boxes immediately outside a resident’s front door or window, and nothing is said about aesthetic considerations or fitting in to the streetscene and local ambience.

The criteria are:

“General Considerations

The following points serve as planning considerations when selecting a suitable location for the DSLAM cabinet.

  • The ideal position of the DSLAM cabinet is within 2m of Copper cabinet. Please ensure that there is 1m clearance either side of the DSLAM.
  • The maximum cable length from DSLAM cabinet to PCP is normally 50m (needed to maintain PCP CAL value).
  • The position of, and access to the DSLAM cabinet must accommodate installation by crane from a truck. It must also be feasible to make maintenance visits for an engineer (e.g. to check batteries), or change cards.
  • Situate in a safe and non-obstructive manner for the public, engineers and contractors.
  • Avoid kerbside locations if possible – reducing a traffic hazard.
  • Avoid places where restrictive waiting or working restrictions may apply.
  • Avoid causing obstruction or restricting road and pavement users’ line of sight.
  • Avoid locating where the cabinet can be used as an intermediate stepping-stone to someone wishing to climb over a high wall/fence.
  • Consider how to minimise the risk due to other services (e.g. overhead obstructions).
  • Proximity to schools, elderly, disabled and other vulnerable groups where a lifting operation would incur additional risk. .
  • Consider obstruction to maintenance of gardens and buildings, such as hedge cutting, fence preserving, etc. Please allow 100mm from cabinet to wall.
  • Safe dig prints and the use of Locator 9B can be used to avoid positioning of the cabinet above other services.
  • Health and Safety Guide (47) is a useful document
  • Where proposed DSLAM cabinets are located in flood plain areas, try to mitigate the risk of flooding where possible. The level of risk can be found on the Environment Agency website. Local, County councils and other utilities can be a useful source of info.
  • You need to take account of noise emissions and allow for this in quiet residential premises (aim for greater distances from bedrooms). Avoid locations where noise could reverberate or be directed towards premises (such as alleyways). Discuss individual cases if this cannot be achieved with the policy team. “

CONGRATULATIONS TO WILLIAM AND CATHERINE ON YOUR WEDDING DAY

We both celebrated the Royal wedding at the lunchtime party organised by the Highfields Residents’ Association, in the grounds of the Highfields Lawn Tennis Club, adjacent to our road. It was an enjoyable party to celebrate a wonderful event. The Association considered holding a street party but rightly concluded that everyone could be accommodated on the lawn in front of the Edwardian tennis club pavilion. We are still waiting to hear if the pavilion, which dates from 1908, will be included, as a building of local interest, on the Sutton Local List. It was Councillor Clifton who nominated the pavilion for inclusion on the list, and who played a major role in organising the last street party in this locality, for the Golden Jubilee in 2002. 

GOING GREEN TO SAVE THE SMALL BLUE



Residents are being urged to use their green-fingered skills to help save a tiny endangered butterfly.

The Small Blue is one of the UK’s rarest butterflies and in London is only established in a few locations, including in an area of Sutton.

As its name suggests, it is Britain’s smallest resident butterfly with a wing span that can be as little as 16mm. But numbers have plummeted in recent years due to the loss of chalk grassland habitats.

Now householders in Sutton South are being encouraged to save the Small Blue by growing kidney vetch, one of the main plants on which the butterflies feed and breed.

Kidney vetch only flourishes on poor nutrient, alkaline soils.

Cllr Heather Honour, one of the local ward councillors on Sutton Council, said: “We want local people to get involved and help save this beautiful butterfly. They can grow kidney vetch in their gardens or allotments, and we hope local landlords and businesses will also plant it on their land.

“The response from residents so far has been excellent, with a large number of people, children from the local primary school and several local organisations saying they want to help. Together we can help the Small Blue to thrive.”

The call to help protect the butterfly came as plans were announced to build
a small climbing frame for young children in the Devonshire Avenue Local Nature Area.

Environmental campaigners feared the climbing frame could pose a risk to the Small Blue, whose habitat is in the area.

Cllr Honour said: “There are currently no playgrounds anywhere else in the ward, which is an area where 50 per cent of homes do not have a back garden. Hopefully this is a solution which will help both the butterflies and our young people to flourish.”

Hendryk Jurk, biodiversity manager at Sutton Council, said: “Kidney vetch is a reasonably easy plant to grow and can be cultivated in people’s back gardens, though it does need to be properly maintained.”

Residents will be able to learn more about the butterfly and growing kidney vetch at an event at the site on June 25.

To get involved contact Cllr Honour at heather.honour@sutton.gov.uk

Watch this website for details of the Sutton South Butterfly Watch Devonshire Avenue Nature Area  June 25th 12 noon



DEMOGRAPHIC TIMEBOMB

 

Current funding on social care will be under pressure as the older population of  Sutton increases.  This was the message last night, Monday 7th March, from Councillor Heather Honour speaking at the Council debate on the budget.

She said that it was good news that people were living longer.  But over the next 20 years the population of those over 65 years would grow by 50 per cent, that the number of people over 90 would treble and the number of people with learning disability of working age would grow by 30 per cent.

They would need support from the state and from their families in managing their personal care and everyday living, social care in other words.

“This is relevant to us today in our debate on a budget where Eric Pickles has reduced our formula grant by 13.3 per cent.  I have been told that were it not for the additional £2billion allocated by the government for social care across the country, the reduction in our grant would have been 17 per cent.  Set this against the research published by the Dilnot Commission on Future Funding of Care and Support that carers were willing to contribute an extra 13 per cent of their time to care for their loved ones but the need for care would grow by 55 per cent.”

She said” As we go forward we will need to preserve and develop the services that keep us fit and healthy, prevention as it is called.  An example is the chair based exercise class organised by Age Concern at Granfers Hall.  This was a lifeline for my late mother giving her confidence to go out and the opportunity to meet people in a similar situation to her”.

The personalisation agenda, giving everyone receiving social care an individual budget, would be better value as individuals chose the services that suit them.  But the Council would need to make  sure that people had easy access to the information they needed.  What’s more the council would need to make sure that the services were out there in the community.  Sutton’s partnership approach would be invaluable whether it is with the voluntary sector or the private sector.

SUTTON TORIES ARE “NEW LUDDITES” CLAIMS COUNCILLOR CLIFTON

 Sutton’s Tories are “the new Luddites”, opposing new technology and innovation that will save Sutton residents millions of pounds. This was the charge made by Councillor Richard Clifton at the Sutton Council meeting on 7 March.

The Tories oppose a plan to close four offices the Council does not need, a reduction in office space achieved by moving staff to a more efficient way of working that involves “hot desking” and the use of new technology.

Councillor Clifton – who works for an organisation that that made this move and himself “hot desks” – claims that the new system of office organisation saves millions of pounds as it reduces the need for office space, enables you to close unwanted office buildings, and is a more efficient way of working. “Hot desking” involves using new technology (remote access email, mobile phones, Blackberries etc) so that people can work remotely, from home or while “out and about” on Council business, part of the time. They do not have their own desk in the office but use any desk that is free on the days they need to go to the office.

This innovation, which many businesses have implemented to cut costs, will enable the Council to close offices and save money. Some up-front costs are involved to invest in the technology and re-organise the office so people can “hot desk”. But Councillor Clifton argues that in the long run it saves millions of pounds, from reduced need for buildings and because it is a more efficient way of working.

An “Outline Business Case” showed a minimum saving of at least a quarter of a million pounds per year, but Councillor Clifton told the Council meeting that his own experience of more flexible ways of working suggests the savings are under-estimated and there are huge savings to be made in the long term.

Underlying this dispute is a more fundamental issue about social change in Britain. Councillor Clifton pointed out that new technology that enables people to work remotely is changing the way we work. The traditional model of office work, where all the work is done between 9 and 5 in a building that people commute for hours to reach, is disappearing. This is due to a combination of new technology and changing social attitudes as people seek the efficiencies and flexibility in work patterns that the new technology makes possible.

“The Tories in Sutton are totally out of touch with the realities of modern industrial organisation,”

said Councillor Clifton. “They would shackle us to a disappearing model of the organisation of work that would force us to keep open buildings we do not need, reduce staff efficiency, and cost us a packet of money. They are the new Luddites.”

[NOTE: the Conservative Councillors opposed further work on the project, even though the business case showed, at this point, savings. Later work suggested uncertainty about the figures and, in accordance with our commitment to evidence-based policies, the project was ultimately dropped. ]

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.