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.
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.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW
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.
Following the annual Council meeting in May where membership of Council committees is decided, Trish has an important new role as chair of the Council’s Licensing Committee. This is an appointment that makes full use of Trish’s previous experience in owning and managing licensed premises. Richard has a new appointment to the Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee.
The new pedestrian crossing in Mulgrave Road is a few yards outside our Ward but it will be of great benefit to our residents. Richard and Trish campaigned for this crossing. Crossing the road has never been easy at this point but the crossing will be of great importance and help.
Trish and Richard were delighted at the strong showing for the Liberal Democrats in the elections for the European Parliament. The results for Sutton showed the Liberal Democrats polled 18 706 votes, ahead of the Brexit Party which polled 17 307. The Tories polled just 4 863 votes.
Those present at the count told us that the indications were that in Sutton South we won about the same share of the vote, or even did a little better, as in Sutton as a whole.
Trish and Richard are delighted at this result.
Richard, who joined the LibDems when the Social Democratic Party merged with the old Liberal Party in the 1980s, said he was delighted by the result.
THE ARTICLE BELOW WAS PUBLISHED IN MAY 2019 – THERE ARE FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS SO SEE THE LATER ARTICLE ABOVE. THIS ARTICLE IS KEPT ON THE SITE TO SHOW HOW THE PROPOSALS EVOLVED.
Sutton South Councillors have now seen the results of the second stage of the consultation on parking. There was a strong response rate – about half of residents responding in some roads, high for this type of study. The results are clear enough for conclusions to be drawn, but raise some issues on which some more detailed information would be helpful.
The results for Mayfield, The Ridgway and Chalgrove indicate that residents are not happy with the proposals for yellow lines and bays, so might prefer a residents’ permit parking area. Upland Road residents want to join in any scheme for this area, which makes it logical to also include Farm Road. There is concern about the form of the controls, the proposal being for yellow lines where parking is prohibited for a set period on weekdays, and bays where anyone can park. This could lead to competition between residents and commuters for the bays, the bays attracting “longstay” parkers and commuters touring the area looking for bays. The alternative is a Residents’ Parking Area with no yellow lines or bays, but only residents who have obtained a parking permit, or their visitors displaying a Visitors’ Permit, allowed to park in the street for this set period. This would remove commuters, increase the parking available to residents and eliminate the disadvantages described above, though there would be a charge for the permits to cover the administrative costs of the scheme. We would like your views on these options.
There was a lower rate of response from Kayemoor Road, Prior Avenue, Willis Avenue, perhaps because the Stage1 proposals for parking controls in The Ridgway and Mayfield Road were thought to have limited implications. We think the displacement of parking, and the fact that numbers of vehicles parked is continuing to gradually increase, could have an impact in the medium to long term, particularly given current housing developments in central Sutton, So there is a case for further consulting residents of these roads, now that the parking control area will be extended to include Upland Road.
On 8 March we attended a meeting of the Police Consultative panel for the Ward. We continue to have no dedicated Ward office above the level of PCSO. Two police attended – our loyal PCSO Laura Jogoe and PC Adam Nawol, from Cheam Ward, also came.
As usual, the police SNTs are seriously undermanned. Over the 4 wards, ie Sutton South, Cheam, Belmont and Sutton West, there are 1 sergeant, 5 PCs, of whom only 3 are “operational” and 3 PCSOs. There are supposed to be 8 PCs, 2 per ward. We were told that there is a PCSO recruitment campaign. Great concern was expressed by all at the meeting and we agreed to write to MPs and the Mayor of London.The police reported that in the period December to March, there were 16 burglaries and 21 vehicle crimes in Sutton South Ward. Common methods of entry included getting over a back gate and entering from the rear of the premises by breaking a door or window. We were advised to link a burglar alarm to a call centre, rather than rely on a neighbour. Car thefts were mainly opportunist, some people forgetting to lock their cars. Drugs were not viewed as a big problem, incidents being very sporadic and tackled quickly, after which the drug sellers would move on to somewhere else.
THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED IN FEBRUARY 2019. THERE ARE LATER DEVELOPMENTS COVERED IN LATER ARTICLES, ABOVE. THIS ARTICLE IS KEPT ON THE SITE TO SHOW HOW THE PROPOSALS EVOLVED.
We would like to again thank residents who have contributed to the two stages of consultation by the Council on parking.
Since some misinformation has been put round in the Ward, we want to summarise where matters now stand – though all the information on the process is on the Council’s website, click on parking and follow the links to the parking strategy.
No decisions have been taken. We await the analysis by the traffic engineers of the results of the second consultation. As Councillors, we only want to do what residents want. We will be guided by the results of consultation and are determined not to impose our own views on this process.
What we know from the first consultation is this. Much of Sutton South Ward experiences a high demand for parking as we are close to the town centre and the railway station. Parking is rationed by having a controlled parking zone (CPZ) but this leads to bumper to bumper parking six days a week in the roads just outside the zone, such as Mayfield Road. The results of the first round of consultation were consistent with previous studies by Councillors, the Council and the residents’ association, in that:
there is a strong majority favouring parking controls in Mayfield Road
there are more mixed views in Chalgrove Road and The Ridgway but, overall, support for controls
there are more mixed views in Upland Road and roads beyond, though less support for parking controls the further you are from the CPZ.
The proposals of officers was to introduce controls in Mayfield, The Ridgway and Chalgrove. It will be interesting to see whether the results of the second consultation mean that other roads, in particular Upland Road, want to join the scheme. The objective of having successive consultations was to let residents have a second opportunity to give a view when they could see what was proposed for neighbouring roads, recognising that any parking scheme will lead to some displacement.
Previous surveys have suggested that there is no appetite for a full CPZ with machines. The solution adopted with success elsewhere in Sutton, including in Hillcroome Road, is to have a mix of yellow lines operative for an hour a day to deter commuters, with some free to park bays. These bays are needed to cater for residents who will need to park a vehicle on the road and they also reduce the amount of displacement into neighbouring roads, which is a legitimate consideration.
An alternative that has been suggested is to have a “residents’ only” parking scheme with residents obtaining a permit to park during controlled hours. Disadvantages are that this scheme would involve extensive signage along the roads involved, bureaucracy, and a cost as the administrative costs of dealing with permit applications would have to be covered by charges for permits. It would also lead to more displacement. We welcome views on that alternative.
Parking has been an issue of concern locally for the 30 years Richard has lived in The Ridgway. We want to tackle this issue though recognising that it is problematic. We are consulting and will do what the majority of residents want, not impose our own solutions.
An effort is being made, on 8 March, to re-launch the Community-Police Consultative Panel for our Ward.
This will be a meeting to which the public are invited, at 6pm, at Christchurch in Christchurch Park.
We were concerned after the last meeting of the panel, on 29 November, that numbers attending and the importance the police placed on the work of the panel were slipping. It was the first meeting for a long time as the summer meeting was cancelled at a late point due to it being on the evening of one of the football matches England were involved in in the World Cup. It was a meeting that left us feeling worried. An increase in crime, in burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles, was reported for the first time for some time. This may not be unrelated to problems of police numbers following the merger with Croydon and Bromley. There were a significant number of unfilled posts, vacancies, that the police were struggling to fill, particularly PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers). These officers are important for work on community relations. One member of staff was about to be moved to work in Croydon and we have again lost our Dedicated Ward Officer, Kellie Heath. Kellie has also moved to Croydon.
We hope for a better attendance on 8 March and welcome a new Chair, Aime.