Good news for our local volunteering teams

Sutton Centre for the Voluntary Sector (SCVS) in partnership with the Volunteer Centre Sutton (VC Sutton) and other local charities has been awarded Transforming Local Infrastructure Funding by the Big Fund (the non-Lottery funding arm of the Big Lottery Fund) on behalf of the Office for Civil Society.

The bid was for just under £400,000 and Sutton is one of only 72 local areas to be awarded funding from the last pot of money being released from central government to help infrastructure organisations become more effective and self-sufficient for the future.

In a statement, Civil Society Minister Nick Hurd said: “This fund is not designed to support business as usual. It is about making things better for the front line. It’s about supporting organisations with innovative business plans who want to play their part in modernising the landscape of local infrastructure.”

The bid was developed in consultation with the voluntary/community sector and local partners and will enable us to:

·         Improve support services to the voluntary/community sector by developing closer working between SCVS and VC Sutton.

·         Increase support for volunteering by creating a corps of volunteers.

·         Look at the feasibility of developing a voluntary sector building or hub – co-locating voluntary organisations and providing integrated support services for the voluntary/community sector.

·         Support voluntary/community organisations to become more enterprising through working more closely with local businesses.

·         Work across London to increase corporate giving to the local voluntary sector.

This is an exciting project which will increase the levels of support and funding that SCVS and the Volunteer Centre are able to offer to voluntary/community organisations in Sutton in these challenging times, and we look forward to working with colleagues across the borough to develop it.

Let me, Heather, know on if you are interested in volunteering in Sutton.

St Georges decide not to proceed with merger process.

“As Vice Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Committee and one of two Sutton Council representatives on the SW London Health Scrutiny Committee, I will be following very closely the implications for the residents of Sutton South  of the decision by St George’s Healthcare Trust not to proceed with the merger with  St Helier Hospital. Please see the press release below.”

Cllr Heather Honour

St George’s decide not to proceed with merger process

St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust have informed us and our strategic authority, NHS London, that they cannot proceed with their bid to merge with St Helier and Sutton hospitals.

Throughout the process St George’s have been very positive about the strategic opportunity to merge and the benefits this could bring to patients.

However, due to the financial challenges facing hospitals in south west London and the inability to pre-empt the outcome of the Better Services Better Value review, which is looking at how NHS services are provided across south west London, they do not feel able to proceed at this time.

This is because the review, which will be open to public consultation, could have a significant impact on the financial income of all hospitals involved.

St George’s have however expressed a full commitment to working closely with St Helier and Sutton hospitals in the future.

Jan Sawkins is the Independent Chair of the special Board set up to help St Helier, Sutton and Epsom hospitals to achieve foundation trust status.  She said: “Whilst we have always been aware that a bidder could withdraw during the process, at this stage in the transaction it is obviously very disappointing news.

“The Transaction Board has a meeting scheduled next week (7 February 2012) and we will use this to consider the options and agree a way forward.  This may include re-opening tenders for St Helier and Sutton hospitals.”

Matthew Hopkins, Trust Chief Executive said: “This is disappointing news, but St George’s have been clear to us that their decision is not based on our staff, nor the quality of the services we provide at St Helier and Sutton hospitals.

“As you would expect, the Trust Board and those working on the transaction have been looking at other options in case this happened and we look forward to discussing these with the Transaction Board next week.

“Whilst we are making decisions about the long-term future of our hospitals, our priority will – as ever – continue to be ensuring our patients and local people receive the very best services.”

Asked what this means for Epsom Hospital, Jan added: “It is the current belief that, subject to Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust being confirmed as the Preferred Partner for Epsom Hospital, the de-merger could continue whilst we make alternative arrangements for St Helier and Sutton.

“Whilst this would, of course, need further investigation and approval by the Transaction Board, the Trust Board and others, it is felt that this would be in the best interest of Epsom Hospital, its patients, staff and local people.

“However, I would emphasise that the priority remains to secure the future of Epsom, St Helier and Sutton hospitals.”

For more information about the work of the Trust visit our website:  You can also follow us on Twitter ( or find us on Facebook (

This is what St Georges said in their press release:

St George’s media statement

 St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust submitted a bid for a potential merger with St Helier Hospital in November 2011.

The board is clear that a merger between St George’s Healthcare and St Helier would be an excellent strategic opportunity, with the potential to bring significant improvements to the care of patients across southwest London and beyond.

After careful consideration the board has reached the conclusion that the current terms of the merger prevent us from proceeding further at this time.

The level of financial challenge facing hospitals in south west London,  combined with the inability to pre-empt the outcome of a public consultation around the Better Services Better Value (BSBV) review, means this is not the right time for us to progress with the transaction.

We want to continue to build on the existing links that are in place for clinical services.  We have identified a number of the potential benefits to patients that would occur from an acquisition which could also be delivered if the organisations remained separate legal entities which we shall continue to pursue.

We are particularly keen to develop the clinical and academic networks that span St George’s Healthcare and St Helier, and explore opportunities to establish new networks across services, to the benefit of patients.

A key priority for the trust is to achieve Foundation Trust (FT) status by 2014, and we will focus our efforts on achieving this. The board feels strongly that achieving FT status will strengthen the opportunities for St. George’s Healthcare and St Helier to work together in the future.

This is what Ashford and St Peters have had to say:

Statement re Epsom Hospital

Chief Executive at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Andrew Liles, said:

“The decision made by St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust not to pursue their bid for St Helier and Sutton hospitals has not changed our position regarding Epsom and we will continue to progress our plans to acquire Epsom hospital (through merger) in line with the process set out by the Transaction Board.  Of course this is still subject to approval by the Transaction Board, Epsom and St Helier, the local health authorities and others and by our own Board, who will need to be assured that any final decision is in the best interests of both the Epsom and Ashford and St Peter’s catchment populations.

As a Foundation Trust already we feel we are in a strong position strategically to pursue these plans and we know they have already passed through the first stage of the process successfully, meeting the criteria set by local people, stakeholders and staff.  These include new and innovative partnerships – with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Central Surrey Health and Surrey and Sussex Partnership NHS Trust – to create an integrated healthcare campus at Epsom Hospital, bringing additional services and added benefits to local patients and staff.  Our plans are also made more straightforward by the fact that Epsom hospital is not part of the Better Services Better Value review in South West London.

We have also had positive initial discussions regarding financial and commissioning support for our plans, although of course final decisions regarding the preferred provider and agreement of financial support are still to be made.”

For more information please call the Press Office on:  01932 722163


Sutton Council held its annual event for Holocaust Memorial Day on Friday 27th January 2012 in the Europa Gallery in Sutton Central Library. We both attended. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’ and had the aim of encouraging people to challenge injustice and hatred, thus creating a safer, better future. There were speeches from the Mayor of Sutton, Councillor Gerry Jerome, Holocaust survivor Marcel Ladenheim, Mr. Meddie Kakyama-Mayanja, who spoke on the African genocides, and Reverend Meir Lev, Minister of Sutton and District Synagogue. There were references to local experiences of hate crime in Sutton, along with a stall from the Safer Sutton Partnership on reporting hate crime, to bring a local perspective to the theme of ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’. There was also an exhibition with information and photographs on the theme.


Richard organised a meeting with residents in Blackbush Close on 25 January, attended by Councillors and Council officials. Residents want to increase parking in Blackbush Close, as there is a shortage of parking spaces for those living in the blocks in Bonchurch Close and Blackbush Close. It was agreed that proposals to remove yellow lines on one side of the road over a part of Blackbush Close will be actively examined. An alternative would be to extend the parking controls in the adjacent Controlled Parking Zone to the road. Richard will get back to residents as this proposal progresses.

We are grateful to residents of Westmoreland Drive who contacted us following our letter to residents on the subject of proposals for yellow lines controlling parking in the road. Last September The Council consulted residents on proposals for yellow lines in Westmoreland Drive, responding to concerns about access for emergency vehicles following a fire in which a resident died. The clear majority view of residents was that the initial proposals were not acceptable due to the reduction in parking spaces.  

As local Councillors, we discussed with Council officers how to meet the wishes of residents. A reduced proposal is to free up one side of the road by removing all the proposed yellow lines on the left hand side as you walk from Ventnor Road down Westmoreland Drive but retaining those on the right. This should maintain access but meet concerns about the number of parking spaces available to residents, by reducing the restrictions on parking.

The Fire Service have been consulted, to be sure they will be able to gain access in an emergency when the reduced scheme is implemented. This scheme appears acceptable to a majority of residents and if it meets the concerns for emergency access it will in due course be implemented.

Blackbush Close: where residents would like more parking to be available. The proposal is to remove the yellow line on the left but make the yellow line on the right a double yellow line for part of the road, a little beyond where this photo was taken. Alternatively, bring the road within the Controlled Parking Zone.


Every two years Sutton Council has commissioned the polling organisation MORI to undertake an independent in-depth research survey into the attitudes of people who live in Sutton, to help us understand what people like and dislike, and thus improve services.

The full results will appear soon on the Council’s website ( but we have seen a digest of the results and would welcome any feedback from local residents on your reactions.

The results that particularly struck us are:

* Sutton residents have a high level of satisfaction with Sutton as a place to live, 91% being satisfied (11 points higher than the national average), with the proportion “very satisfied” increasing from 25% to 36% since the last survey in 2009. This is in line with recent surveys that concluded that Sutton is the best place in London to bring up children, taking account of factors such as our good schools, good transport links and low crime rate

* the issues that most concern residents in Sutton are parking, dog fouling and speeding traffic, these scoring above issues such as litter, vandalism and graffiti. There is sharply increasing concern about dog fouling, which reflects our experience in terms of issues residents raise with us as Councillors. Parking is also an issue of concern though these concerns take different forms – in roads like Eastleigh Close and Bonchurch Close it concerns difficulty in finding a parking space nearby for one’s own car, in some other roads it is a concern about commuter parking in the road. In Sutton South Ward, there is definately a concern about litter, but vandalism and graffiti are less of a problem locally

* almost three in four (73%) are satisfied with the services of Sutton Council, higher than the national figure. There appears to be a strongly positive attitude to services such as parks and open spaces, street lighting, street cleaning, refuse collection and playgrounds, less strongly positive (though still positive) attitudes to pavement and road maintenance, and to parking services

* a concern emerges from the survey about how well Sutton Council keeps people informed     

* although Sutton is a low crime area compared to other parts of London and 96% of residents feel safe walking outside in their neighbourhood alone during the day, this proportion drops to 62% after dark, and residents are increasingly concerned about anti-social behaviour and burglary or theft

* a quarter of Sutton’s residents volunteer regularly and 81% think Sutton is an area where people from different backgrounds get on well together.

It should be noted is that, overall, people feel less well-off than when the survey was last undertaken two years ago, with 45% saying their personal financial circumstances have got worse in the last year, as the recession has bitten.

We are interested in the views of local people on these issues and would welcome it if readers of this article want to give us their opinion.

Matters that clearly require attention include:

– there is a finding that people are less satisfied than one might expect with the information received from the Council. How can we improve on this ?

– dog fouling has got worse. The problem is a small minority of dog owners. Most are very responsible. Is there any solution ?

A further study of our local area (covering three Wards – Sutton South, Belmont and Cheam) will be available shortly. The sample size is too small to give results just for Sutton South Ward.



Sutton is famous for its avenues of street trees, and our Ward has many fine examples.

There are over 21 00 street trees in Sutton and their maintenance is sometimes a headache. While we all love the trees, they drop leaves and sap, block light and disturb pavements and front gardens with their roots. A balance has to be struck in keeping their height down, since heavy pollarding of lime trees (for example) leads to them developing many more branches that grow back quickly with larger leaves. Tree pruning policy is governed by a British Standard, and needs to take account of the shaping of the tree. Changes to the Standard in the 1980’s led to some changes in tree pruning policy involving less severe pruning.

In 2011 an exercise was carried out to deal with basal growth and low level branches. A more severe pruning programme occurs on a four yearly basis. Richard and Heather were able to get the programme changed so that the pruning programme began in the Ward in November 2011. It is due to conclude by February 2012. It has involved identifying any trees that are diseased and 16 have been taken out. The locations are noted and replacement trees will be provided in due course, but there is a waiting list. The rest are subject to the pruning programme.

Before the programme began Richard met Ben Morris, the Council’s Chief arborculturalist, in Sutton South Ward, to discuss the programme. They called on a number of residents who have particular issues with street trees.

Richard comments “We all love the trees and Sutton is rightly regarded as a green and pleasant Borough. I was pleased we were able to get the pruning programme brought forward. Inevitably the decisions taken by the arborculturalists leave some people complaining that trees near them should be pruned harder or less hard, and in a few locations trees that twere declining or diseased have been lost. But overall this is a programme to maintain the trees that are such an attractive aspect of South Sutton Ward.”

We appreciate the trees in The Ridgway, which have been severely lopped.


Keeping Sutton moving is one of our top priorities, so we’ve been working with the Department for Transport to make sure that we’re ready for the cold weather that this winter will bring.

Prevention is better than patching things up, and we’d rather stop potholes from appearing in the first place, reducing accidents, keeping traffic flowing and avoiding costly repairs.

We’re asking for residents’ help. There are over 200 miles of road in the borough and although we inspect roads regularly, we can’t be everywhere at once. We need your help to spot holes as soon as they start to form so that we can repair them before serious damage is done.

Residents can report a pothole online at or ringing 020 8770 5070, or let Heather and Richard know.


Sutton crowned council of the year for customer services

Sutton has been named council of the year after 99% of residents said they were happy with the customer service they received when they telephoned the council.

The award is based on feedback from residents who have spoken to the council via the telephone, internet, mobile phone and face-to-face at council offices.

This year alone, more than 87,000 people left feedback after contacting Sutton Council. Of this figure 92 per cent said they were satisfied with how their query was dealt with face-to-face.

The data is collected and analysed by a company called GovMetric, which is used by 75 local authorities across the country.

The council is keen to replicate this success on its website, to save council tax payers money. Each face-to-face transaction costs the council £5.87 to process. Over the telephone the cost is £2.24, but internet transactions cost just 28p.

From January to November this year, residents contacted the council by telephone 314,425 times, face-to-face 31,539 times and 625,958 times via the internet.

Deputy Leader of Sutton Council, Councillor Ruth Dombey, said: “Now more than ever it is important that we are able to deal with residents’ enquiries as efficiently and helpfully as possible, to ensure we get the best possible value for money for our council tax payers and the best possible results.

“I’m delighted residents are happy with the level of service they receive from their council. Our customer services team are doing a great job and it’s fantastic to have that recognised.

“The feedback we receive allows us to listen to residents and, if anything goes wrong, rectify it quickly. For example, when the 24-hour touchtone payment system was replaced with voice recognition software, customers told us they did not like it. The council reverted back to touchtone within a couple of days.”


Heather meeting Corporal Paul Bicker from The London Regiment

I had the privilege of attending, with my husband,  the presentation given by the  Army this evening at the Territorial Army facilities on Stonecot Hill.

Led by Brigadier Mathew Lowe MBE,  army officers and staff talked about their work and their links with the community.  We saw film of the army in action in many locations, not least Afghanistan.  And we heard at first hand about the service which these brave people give our country.  As one officer said to Peter and me, ” we have to work hard at the training, so that if your mate loses his leg beside you, you know what to do.”  Words that bring home the sacrifices that these men and women make for our safety.

The purpose of the evening was to emphasise that members of the army come from the community, and are part of the community.  They want the community to understand what they do, and to support them.  The army  also wants  to recruit more people from ethnic minorities and also to increase the numbers joining  the Territorial army  which is set to increase significantly over the next 5 years.


At the New Year some residents complained to me of flooding under the Grange Vale bridge. Cycling across to the bridge, I found the heavy and quick leaf fall this autumn had led to a mulch of leaves blocking the drains. While there are over 20 000 street trees in Sutton, so the annual leaf fall stretches the cleaning teams, Grange Vale is also affected by fall from trees owned by Network Rail, on the railway line. I dealt with the problem by myself clearing away the leaf debris. I have asked the response team to give priority to Grange Vale during the leaf fall next year.

Also, just after Christmas, residents in Cavendish Road reported the dumping of rubbish all round the bin adjacent to Fiske Court. I cycled over to look at the problem. I cleared the rubbish back into the bin but more was dumped the following day. I have got tyhe response team to slightly move the bin and, for the time being, check it daily.

A resident of Leslie Gardens, a cul-de-sac off Worcester Road, approached me concerning the problems experienced during the snow last winter, as there is no grit bin near the road and a slight incline at the entrance turns it into an ice rink. After discussion with Council officials, I obtained a new grit bin which has been placed in the road. This adds to the large number of grit bins placed at locations throughout the Ward by the Council over the last two years. Other bins, such as the ones in Hillcroome Road and in Downside Road, were placed at our specific request after discussion with residents.

These are not isolated successes. We have achieved many. For example, see below the litter bin obtained, following an approach from a resident, which we got placed at a strategic point in Cedar Road (said by a resident to be at about the point someone walking back from the station with a takeway snack would finish it and drop litter). Also the tree we got planted in Copse Hill (which replaced a tree demolished by a car in a road traffic accident).

The rubbish bin in Cedar Road

The tree in Copse Hill

 Let us know of other strategic locations in the Ward where something is needed.