SECOND SERIOUS FIRE IN THE WARD IN THREE MONTHS

UPDATE – Since the story below was posted there has been a third serious fire, again with extensive damage to property but no injuries, this in Westmoreland Drive.

On 15 January Trish and Richard visited Grosvenor Court in Brighton Road where there had been a serious fire in a second floor flat during the night. Extensive damage had been caused to the flat and the flat downstairs, but mercifully no-one was injured. We spoke to the fire office, the caretaker of the building and the owner of the flat, which had been empty and under renovation at the time.

Last October, Richard and Trish visited Sutton Court, one of the largest estates in our Ward, having learned of a fire in a flat at the block (see photo). We spoke to the next door neighbour, who lives in the flat opposite on the top floor of their block. She had been concerned at the fire but we were all relieved that no-one was hurt and the damage confined to a single flat.

The damage that fires can cause emphasises the need for everyone to fit smoke detectors and carbon monoxide indicators.

SUPPORTING OUR RESIDENTS FROM EUROPEAN UNION COUNTRIES

Almost one in eight of our residents in Sutton South Ward are European Union citizens – an unusually high proportion. Hard working EU citizens have been vital to our economy, particularly in the health service, social care, transport and catering. We value the huge contribution they make to our economy and to local life. Now that Brexit will happen, we urge our residents who are EU citizens to take action to ensure they and their family can stay in the UK by applying to the Government’s settled or pre-settled status scheme, details of which are on the website www.gov.uk. If you are a citizen of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland you can apply now. You can also apply through the Council at no cost by going to www.sutton.gov.uk and typing “nationality” in the search line.

We meet many hard-working EU citizens who have lived here for years and contribute massively to our society and our economy. The UK needs what they contribute to our society.

READY FOR COLD WEATHER

Ready for the snow

Sutton Council has again, this year, offered residents and businesses in Sutton the opportunity to collect 10kg of free grit per household or business to use on footpaths, pavements or roads in front of their homes or business premises. Residents could also collect grit for elderly friends and neighbours, or residents and businesses who do not have cars. 

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

LIVEABLE NEIGHBOURHOODS

A cycle hanger provides secure bike storage

Sutton Council has put in a bid to a fund financed by the Mayor of London called “Liveable Neighbourhoods”. It will be in competition with lots of other bids from other boroughs and Sutton has a poor record of getting funds from the Mayor. So it is a bit of a gleam in the eye. If Sutton is successful we will know by about next March.

The scheme would fund action on a range of measures that would improve the environment locally. If successful we could get funds to invest in our neighbourhood. This money could be spent on issues like safer crossings, reducing cut-through traffic, better roads so children can walk to school safely, more electric charging points and better cycling infrastructure. This would include measures to encourage walking and cycling, and to improve air quality. There is a website with details and a survey you can complete.

https://sutton.citizenspace.com/highways-environment-and-planning/sutton-liveable-neighbourhoods/

There is also information on the fund on the TfL website. This says:

“Our Liveable Neighbourhoods programme gives boroughs the opportunity to bid for funding for long-term schemes that encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport.

The programme supports the aims of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy by funding local schemes to reduce car trips and improve neighbourhoods for walking, cycling and public transport.

Grants will be provided for a wide range of community-supported projects. These could include creating green spaces and cycling infrastructure and redesigning junctions. The programme can also fund the widening of walking routes to improve access to local shops, businesses and public transport.”

Trish and Richard visited Waltham Forest where they had funding under this scheme, in the time Boris Johnson was Mayor, for a scheme known there as “Mini-Holland” as one of the objectives, but not the only one, is to promote cycling.

One of the ideas, just to give an example, is “cycle hangers” which provide secure outside storage for bikes – very popular in areas where there are blocks of flats and people have little room for bikes in their flat. This is particularly so if they do not live on the ground floor so have to lug a bike upstairs. A majority of residents in our Ward (Sutton South) live in flats, a majority of these people living in upstairs flats, so we think there would be great demand for these spaces. The hangers take up one parking space in the road. See photo above.

Closing roads outside schools for half an hour when the pupils are going in and out is an idea, but this is now a common practice in some parts of London, for example at the school Richard’s grandson goes to in Herne Hill, where there is a rota of parents who erect temporary gates.

Road closures (turning some residential roads into cul-de-sacs by closing them at one end) to reduce rat-running down otherwise quiet residential streets and move the traffic onto main roads is certainly an aspect, but it needs approaching with care. The objective would be to move traffic onto main roads so that residential streets are quieter, with no through traffic, safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and with improved air quality.

There are undoubted pros and cons that need careful examination. There is a good example locally, in Belmont, the gate in Dorset Road close to the junction with Holland Avenue. This is inconvenient to motorists and many residents, and adds to traffic in roads like Holland Avenue. But it massively adds to the quality of life, quiet and clean air of residents of the Homeland Drive area, who otherwise would experience a lot of rat running traffic. It is surely worth investigating whether there is scope for similar interventions locally. Examples in our Ward could be Chalgrove Road and Cumnor Road, where the removal of through traffic would have a transformational effect on the quiet of the road and air quality.

We were told that the experience in Waltham Forest was that they put in some “modal filters” as they call these closures in some roads for a six month trial. In most but not all cases the residents wanted to keep the controls in place at the end of six months, and in some cases where the residents wanted them removed the residents now want them back. Some residents find them inconvenient as they make their own journeys by car more complicated, but it seems most feel this downside is outweighed by having quiet streets with reduced traffic and less air pollution. There is also the fact that if there are comprehensive parking controls introduced in an area, reducing parking, there will be speeding and probably increased through traffic.

Residents have asked us about the circulation of a list of possible road closures. The origin of this list is some illustrative examples prepared by consultants working on the bid to demonstrate what might be done. In fact the Dorset Road example is a much better example as it is real and already exists.

So we think it worthwhile bidding for this money. The Council has made no announcement about it as we do not know yet if the funding will be forthcoming.

RICHARD AND TRISH WIN IMPORTANT CHANGES TO LICENCE APPLICATION IN WORCESTER ROAD

The Russettings

Trish and Richard intervened in the debate over an application for a licence to sell alcohol, from the Registrar’s Office in Worcester Road, The Russettings. They persuaded the office to limit the hours sought so that it did not extend into the evenings.

The office was happy to do this as they are closed in the evening. It seems the application for a licence in the evening was a mistake. They want to be able to provide the happy couple at the weddings they conduct with a glass of champagne. These weddings are always daytime events.

Richard spoke at the hearing on the licence application. This is his speech:

“The task of the committee is to satisfy itself that two very important objectives can be achieved simultaneously. There is no reason why they cannot be.

These are:

First, the Registrar’s Office should be able to properly perform the important functions it discharges for the residents of Sutton, in a world where (I accept) the expectations of the community as to how these functions are discharged has changed a little.

Second, the Office should be a good neighbour and not disturb the peace and quiet of the residential area where it is situated.

I would like to say a word about each of these objectives.

The Registrar’s Office has been in Worcester Road for over 50 years and its functions have changed little over time. I have been to weddings at the office, as a guest, to meetings and conferences there, and to Citizenship Ceremonies. During my year as Mayor I attended these every week to make a speech of welcome to new citizens. The importance of these functions to those who take part needs to be recognised. The day you get married, the day you take British citizenship, these are massive moments in life that stay in the memory and I know the office does all it can to ensure these are happy events. I have been to these events and found champagne is being served when it has been brought by the happy couple or, very occasionally, the new citizen. I think it quite appropriate that a glass of champagne should be available at these events. Those involved all want to make this a happy day and there is no reason atall to suppose that this will lead to disorder in the context of these carefully organised and conducted ceremonies. In fact, there is more of an element of control if champagne is being provided in a managed way rather than people bringing their own.

On the second objective, the expectations of the Councillors and the residents is that the Office will continue to be a good neighbour. That is vital and I am pleased the Office has emphasised its commitment to do this. I am pleased with the assurances that have been given about a limit on the supply of champagne and how these events will continue to be carefully organised. The changes the Office have made to the application to limit the hours and to daytime are, of course, of massive importance and re-assurance.

There was no reason why the licence should extend into the evening. These weddings are daytime events and the office is normally closed in the evening.

I think it important this hearing today had taken place so we can get these assurances from the Office. The officers who run the Registrar’s Office know that were there to be any disorder and disturbance to local residents in the future, the Councillors and their employers would be immediately investigating. I very much hope the Office will continue to discharge these very important functions – which bring happiness to those who take part are are important, memorable days in their lives – without any undue disturbance to the neighbourhood beyond what has happened for the many years the Office has been in Worcester Road. “

HARRIS ACADEMY IN BELMONT OPENED

On 8 October we both attended the opening of the new Harris Academy secondary school in Belmont. We were very impressed by the school, which is already vastly over-subscribed. We recollect the fuss and opposition when building a school on this site was first proposed. Quite a few of our residents in Sutton South Ward now have children at this school. ~It was opened by the broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili.

Jim Al-Khalili, third from left, opens the school

SORTING OUT THE STATION

The work involved in repairing a major electricity cable has caused real problems outside Sutton station and the closure of a bus stop. Trish and Richard had to intervene when the pavement was shut and no walkway established, so people were walking in the road. Eventually we got a walkway put in.

ANY IDEAS ON UPGRADING THE PATH AT THE END OF UPLAND ROAD?

On 5 September Richard was one of a group of officers and Councillors that inspected the short footpath that leads from Upland Road to Banstead Road South. Some residents have asked if the footpath could be upgraded, but the question is – exactly what could be done?

While we were there a team of contractors arrived and undertook the work we had requested to cut back the overgrowing vegetation along the side of the path and tidy it up. It looks better now.

The surface of the path is in reasonable condition for a footpath. There are two lamp standards and we hope to get the trees – which are in the gardens of private houses – that partly shade the lights trimmed back. The fencing along the path is mostly in good condition.

At present the path is a footpath and cyclists are expected to dismount. It would be possible to make it dual use. It is straight, so when entering the footpath at one end you can see if anyone is on the path for the whole length of the path. Assuming people are sensible and a cyclist who encountered a pedestrian on the path would proceed with caution, it would be possible to allow cyclists to use it. Officers are to take some measurements and assess the possibilities.

We would like to know your opinion on these possibilities, and how the path might be spruced up.

STOP PRESS – the vegetation has been cut back. It is proposed to keep the path better maintained. Some work will be undertaken to widen the path at points where it could be widened, and to allow cyclists to use the path.

IMPROVING TRANSPORT AND PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

Trish on an e-bike

We remain committed to delivering an e-bike scheme in Sutton.

The Council has been partnering with Lime on a 12 months trial for a dockless e-bike scheme. Sadly this scheme has now foundered as Lime have withdrawn – we guess it did not prove profitable. The Council is in discussion with other potential providers.

Electric bikes give you a little boost when you start to pedal and when you go uphill. This normally helps less confident cyclists.

The new on-demand bus service for Sutton is proving very popular. Find out more at www.gosutton.co.uk