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. “


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


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.


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.


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


At the July Council meeting Richard spoke to Councillors about what residents told him were the attractions of Sutton South. In a debate on the special character of Sutton he said the green, pleasant atmosphere of the Ward was carefully nutured by Sutton Council but threatened by the decisions of the remote Planning Inspectorate, unaccountable to local people. Here is the text of his speech:

“In my Ward, the planning polices of the Council have undoubtedly been highly successful in preserving the pleasant, green, suburban feel of the Ward. Residents I talk to who have moved to Sutton South from other parts of London often comment on the attractions of the area – low crime, good schools, a pleasant, green, suburban atmosphere, close to the country, close to central London. There has of course been new development over the years but the quality of what has been built has generally been of a high standard.

“A pleasant, green, suburban feel in our Ward”

But I could take you on a tour of the Ward to look at developments that I am less happy with, one of them (Northumberland House) a development that exploited the Government’s “prior approval” arrangements to avoid planning controls, but al the others developments turned down by Sutton Council but then approved on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate. Some of these have been highly regrettable decisions, particularly in terms of design and overdevelopment of sometimes very small sites.

Before I became a Councillor I used to think there was a case for a body like the Planning Inspectorate as, surely, there were all these Councils up and down the country taking idiosyncratic decisions based on wildly varying local circumstances and this central body would impose some consistency of standard. What I in fact observe though is the complete opposite – it is the Inspectors whose decisions seem arbitrary, idiosyncratic, mercurial and lacking consistency, while the Council is imposing a consistent standard at a level based on extensive consultation to establish what is expected by local people.

I think our planners are doing a good job, but there is a case for wider reform of the planning system at a national level to protect the democracy of local decision-taking.”  


The Council is generally quick to remove graffiti and fly tipping. When Richard reported this graffiti in Cedar Road at the foot of Northumberland House it was removed in a few days. Graffiti and fly tipping are a scourge. Report to us any instances you see.



The Council decided that, as parking is often raised as a problem in the regular surveys of the views of residents on what they like about living in Sutton, it would ask all Sutton residents if parking was a problem in their road and what they would like done. The first round of consultation led to the traffic engineers proposing a parking control scheme in just three roads in this area – Chalgrove Road, The Ridgway and Mayfield Road. As there seemed to be no appetite for the full CPZ with machines, as in Langley Park Road, what was proposed was yellow lines operable for one hour a day to remove commuters and “long stay” parkers. There would also need to be bays where people could park at any time, to cater for those residents who have insufficient drive space and need to park a car on the street all day during the day. This is the scheme in Hillcroome Road.

These proposals were not given sufficient support by residents for the Council to have a mandate to proceed with them. Majority opinion in Chalgrove Road was against and, with about a third of residents responding, there was a roughly equal split of opinion in The Ridgway and in Mayfield, small majorities for in Mayfield and against in The Ridgway. The Council would only want to proceed with such a scheme if there was clear and strong resident support. Paradoxically, residents in Upland Road were keen to be included in any parking scheme for The Ridgway and Mayfield.


Responses to consultation suggested that a major problem with the proposals was the free bays, which were seen as a magnet for commuters and long stay parkers, squeezing out residents. The alternative to schemes that all have this disadvantage is a residents-only Permit Parking Area.

The way this works is that only residents can park their vehicles in the road for a “control period”, usually one or two hours each day on weekdays, thus removing commuters and long stay parkers. However, residents would need to obtain and display a parking permit on any vehicle they want to park in the road during the “control period”, and obtain “visitors’ permits” for their visitors. As this scheme will involve the costs of administration and enforcement, and it is only fair that these are borne by those who benefit from the scheme, there is a cost for a permit. The charges would be designed just to cover costs and policy is that they will not increase in the future by more than the index of prices. The cost of a first permit in the current CPZ area is £40 which contrasts with £90 in both Kingston and Merton, £99 in Richmond, £80 in Croydon. Studies consistently show that Sutton is one of the cheapest places in London to Park.

The Council will consult residents on this proposal. Some residents will not see this as a price worth paying to remove non-resident parking and will not support the scheme. That is understandable – we are not making any recommendation but just want to see if residents would or would not support such a parking control scheme.

In Sutton South Ward, the Council will consult residents in Chalgrove Road, The Ridgway, Mayfield Road, Farm Road, Upland Road, Kayemoor Road, Farm Close, Willis Avenue and Prior Avenue, in September, on whether residents want this scheme in their road. The proposed Permit Parking Area also extends into Belmont Ward, to Egmont Road.

For Willis Avenue, Prior Avenue, Kayemoor Road, Downside Road and Farm Close – the results of earlier consultation did not suggest a strong push for parking controls in these road, but residents are still being asked their view on whether they would now favour your road being included in any Permit Parking Area. There was a lower rate of response from these roads, perhaps because the Stage 1 proposals for parking controls in The Ridgway and Mayfield Road were thought to have limited implications. The displacement of parking, particularly if the Permit Parking Area extends to Upland Road, and the fact that numbers of vehicles parked is continuing to gradually increase, could have an impact in the medium to long term, also noting current housing developments in central Sutton. So the Council is again taking the views of residents of these roads.

We are not making any recommendation – as local Councillors we simply want to do what a majority of our residents want. We hope residents will respond to the consultation, in September, so we have a full picture.

There is an event to explain the proposals at Sutton library on 27 June.