We regret that local democracy has again been overruled by the remote Planning Inspectorate, based in Bristol. The proposed development of 81 and 83 Langley Park Road to demolish the houses and build a block of nine flats was turned down by Sutton Council but then granted on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

The concerns of the Council largely related to design. We expect high quality standards of development in our Ward and could envisage a much more attractive development if this proposal was to go ahead. There were also issues about car parking, traffic and congestion, largely dismissed by the Inspector in his report.

Our concern is with the outcome but also with the system. The Planning Inspectorate seems to us to have a bias in favour of development, come what may, and it seems wrong that local decisions taken by locally elected Councillors reflecting a local plan can be overturned with no further right of appeal.

While this is a disappointing outcome, we will, as your local Councillors, continue to seek acceptable standards in proposals for development in the Ward.


At the annual Council meeting where the new Mayor is elected, on 21 May, Richard and Trish got new jobs. Richard is to chair the new Audit and Governance Committee while Trish is a member of the important Housing, Economy and Business Committee. Steve Cook, who was Deputy Mayor when Richard was Mayor in 2016, was elected Mayor. Richard moved the nomination. This is his speech.

“Madame Mayor, I wanted to begin my remarks by echoing what many others have said about the grace, dignity, hard work and commitment you have brought, with Councillor Heron, to the Mayoralty this year.

So let me turn now to another Councillor who, I know, will bring commitment and hard work to the Mayoralty in this coming year, if Council accepts my nomination tonight.

It gives me great pleasure to nominate, to be Mayor of the London Borough of Sutton for the year 2018-19, Councillor Steve Cook.

I cannot resist beginning by saying that if you do accept this nomination it will be the second time in three years that the Mayor of Sutton has been a Muswell Hillbilly, as Steve and I discovered we share a common birthplace, a maternity hospital (sadly later demolished) in Alexandra Park Road in Muswell Hill, in north London. And for those too young to recognise the reference, “I’m a Muswell Hillbilly” is a song made famous by The Kinks pop group, who hail from Muswell Hill, and famous Muswell Hillbillies include Steve and myself, obviously, Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks, Adam Ant and Alvin Stardust – so a really distinguished company of people.

Let me tell you about Steve. Steve was born on the Queen’s coronation day, so every birthday is the anniversary of the Coronation, of Sir Edmund Hillary climbing Everest and of the D-Day landings.

He left school as a teenager after the tragic death of his father and after he had himself suffered a major, life threatening illness. He became a runner in the Soho film business and was such a great success that by the 1980s he had his own large scale, thriving post production studios, in Soho, in London, and in Los Angeles.

But Steve is a drummer, and in a particular milieu, Steve is famous, famous for the Steve Cook Soul Band, formed in 1975. The Steve Cook Soul Band was effectively the “house” band at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane for over twenty years, the industry favourite for charity balls and awards ceremonies, performing at numerous awards and film industry functions.
I am told that at its height it had 17 members including musicians and go-go dancers.

There are many stories about the band. There is a story that in the 1980s they played at the Istanbul Advertising Awards ceremony, followed by a live televised gig at the Istanbul Hilton, and an international incident was narrowly avoided when the skimpily clad go-go dancers were featured on the front page of the Turkish equivalent of the News of the World.

The band lasted from 1975 until its last gig in 2010 – 35 glorious years.

Steve became a Councillor in 2015 after being Chair of the local residents’ association which successfully campaigned against a huge McDonalds drive-through in Wallington.

Now in some London Boroughs there is a tradition that whoever is Deputy Mayor one year then becomes Mayor the following year. We have not constrained ourselves in that way in Sutton but of course Steve was, with Councillor Patel, Deputy Mayor just over a year ago, so he has the experience to avoid the traps and be a great Mayor. And his wife Pauline, who had a distinguished career in education in Sutton – headteacher at Robin Hood infants school for twenty years and at Thomas Wall Nursery school for eight year – brought great dedication to the role of Deputy Mayoress, and will be an excellent Mayoress.

Madame Mayor, I nominate Councillor Steve Cook.”


On 3 May Trish and Richard were re-elected as Councillors for Sutton South.
It is a pity our third candidate, Ed, did not also get in, but we are delighted with the result.
It was inevitable that the LibDems would lose some seats in the election for the Council as it had done so well in 2014 and the decline in UKIP’s share of the vote was of benefit to the Tories.
Trish and Richard are delighted at the confidence shown in them by local residents.


The Council have pruned the cotoneasters at the triangle where Mayfield Road and The Ridgway join Farm Road. Periodic pruning is an essential part of the maintenance programme for these shrubs, and if they grow too high it affects visibility for motorists. The pruning always looks severe and has a stark impact, but these shrubs are robust and grow again quickly. The snow on the day they were pruned makes the impact look particularly severe – contrast these pictures of the triangle on the day after the pruning and the triangle last summer.



Jack has the speed gun

Cedar Road has a 20 mph limit but drivers often exceed it. On the last day of February Richard joined local police officers and Jack Hamilton, the former chair of the South Sutton Neighbourhood Association, in checking speeds with a “speed gun.” Those exceeding the speed limit will get a warning letter and action will escalate if they are caught again.



The last two winters have been fairly mild with not much snow, so many of us who collected free grit under the Council’s scheme to distribute free grit against icy weather in the last two years have still got the grit. This winter is, by contrast, proving severe and the cold weather at the end of February is demonstrating to all of us the value of the grit distribution scheme.


A green, pleasant, suburban environment – this is Sutton

Trish and Richard were members of the task group that drafted the new local plan for Sutton. After going through a process of public review by a Government Inspector, the plan was presented to and agreed by the Housing, Economy and Business Committee on 13 February. Richard addressed the Committee on what he saw as the virtues of the plan. The plan was endorsed by Council on 26 February and Richard again addressed the meeting, reminding Councillors that the process of public review – which can lead to major revision of such plans – left it virtually unscathed. The core policies of the plan survived without alteration, and are the central policies that have helped us maintain the pleasant, green, suburban character of Sutton our residents cherish. This is evidence of the strength of the document.

The plan supports development that is in keeping with the best in our local environment – preserving the green, suburban feel of Sutton while meeting the aspiration to have homes for our children to grow up here. The plan promotes good quality design, school places, the London Cancer Hub, surgeries, the protection of pubs, parks and open spaces, and minimum standards for housing. It also strengthens the protection of Conservation Areas and Areas of Special Local Character. It is our plan for a successful Sutton.


At the Housing, Economy and Business Committee meeting on 13 February the Committee considered a draft of a publication that will list all the “locally listed” buildings in Sutton. Most people are aware that historic buildings might be “listed” to prevent their being inappropriately developed or demolished. This is, however, a national system, and local authorities can prepare lists of local structures that are of significance locally though not grand enough to go on the national list.

There are four such structures in Sutton South Ward.

  • the Registrar’s office (The Russetings) in Worcester Road, a Victorian house that it is believed the Walls family, famous for Walls ice cream and Walls sausages, lived in, though this is disputed
  • Stowford in Brighton Road, a Victorian house, now the Eagle House school
  • the pavilion of the Highfield Lawns tennis club at the junction of Mayfield Road and The Ridgway, as an example of an Edwardian tennis pavilion, build by local builder Percy Vere Windebank in 1908
  • a Victorian sewer vent pipe in Hillcroome Road, one of 24 in the area, manufactured at an ironworks (W. Macfarlane and Co.) in Glasgow and erected when mains sewerage came to the area in the nineteenth century.

Perhaps the most unusual of these is the sewer vent pipe, pictured above.


The latest planning application for 7-9 Cavendish Road, for demolition of the building and erection of a block of 16 flats, was turned down by the Council. The Planning Inspectorate, on appeal, has overturned the Council’s decision.

The main objection was that the design of the building – with sixteen small flats crammed in – was unsympathetic to the pleasant, green, suburban character of the road.

The developers appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol against the decision. On 9 January Richard attended a hearing on the appeal conducted by the Planning Inspectorate, and spoke up for the interests of local residents. Richard helped the previous owner get permission for the change of use of the building from being a care home, when the care home closed, to being a residential property, as the owner said she intended to live in it. He also helped her get Sutton Housing Partnership to repair the fence at the back.

We regret that the national planning system allows developers to bypass local democracy and appeal to this remote body, whose decision is final. 


Are car clubs part of the solution?

Residents of Sutton South Ward have been consulted on problems and solutions concerning parking in the Ward. There has been a high response and the timetable for future action has been spelt out.

All residents received a consultation letter from Sutton Council relating to the parking issues in our Ward. When the Council’s Environment and Neighbourhoods Committee adopted the parking strategy in late 2016, involving a programme of consultation with residents over a period of time, we were pleased at the programme of consultation proposed but unhappy with the timescales. To undertake consultation in a way the traffic engineers could cope with, action in our area would not start till well into 2018. Following our campaign, this first stage has now been brought forward.

The consultation document recognises that there is a high demand for commuter parking near to Sutton train station and the town centre, in our Ward. The fact that part of our area is just outside the Sutton Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) means that there is more pressure on local roads, leading to parking problems being moved onto neighbouring streets.

The consultation will gather feedback from local residents in respect of parking pressures, issues and the days/times these are occurring to feed into wider analysis and development of options to progress to statutory consultation to address these issues.

The consultation ran until early January and response was via postage paid return envelope. Responses will be collated and analysed, the results to be fed back to consult on next steps. The timetable has now been spelt out and will involve analysis of responses and road-by-road results in the Spring, consultation on proposed options over the summer. If a clear consensus emerges there could be statutory consultation in the autumn and implementation by November.

There is more information at