In collaboration with HumanForest Sutton Council has launched a dockless electric bike hire scheme in the borough to provide residents and visitors with Sustainable Transport options for their journeys and to meet one of the aims of the current Sustainable Transport Strategy to increase the number of local journeys made by cycle rather than by private motor vehicle. The scheme launched on 22nd September with 120 ebikes in each borough and the potential to increase the fleet size. This is a year’s trial with the option to extend the contract for a further two years. This is a year’s trial with the option to extend the contract for a further two years.

Users register to use the scheme via the HumanForest app and receive up to 10 minutes free use each day.  Additional use time costs 17p per minute and “usage bundles” are available to reduce this. HumanForest is launching a discount scheme for NHS employees and students. 

Currently, HumanForest operates successful schemes in Islington, Hammersmith & Fulham and the City of London. We understand that Merton Borough is considering a scheme too.

Sutton’s Sustainable Transport and Commissioning team has been working with Human Forest to identify locations where dockless e-bikes are deployed (for users to collect) and where users may also finish their ride. Known as “green bays’, ebike users are not charged for parking the e-bike in a “green bay” as a way of encouraging responsible use. E-bikes parked outside of the “green bay” are charged £1.50 (even if the user is within their daily 10 minute free allowance).  Users who consistently park inconsiderately incur a penalty charge and repeat offenders may be banned from using the scheme.

Currently, all bays are on the footway and it is the borough’s intention to move some e-bike parking to the carriageway, once usage patterns become known and we receive funding from TfL. HumanForest is currently negotiating with Rail Operators and NHS trusts to use their land as “green bays” and, whilst this was not in place on the launch day, 22nd September, we are aware that the Royal Marsden has asked to host “green bays”. HumanForest is also talking to organisations representing those who may be adversely affected by inconsiderately parked ebikes e.g. Sutton Vision, Sutton Talking Newspapers, Sutton Living Streets and  Wheels for Wellbeing.

Geo-fencing technology is used to define the “green bays” and users will see them on the HumanForest app  Bays which are found to be inconvenient to residents or visitors will be removed within 5 working days although, as these are “virtual”, we anticipate that urgent requests can occur sooner.  Hire ebikes have a regulated maximum speed of 15.5 miles per hour but they can be programmed so that the motor slows in certain locations e.g. the pedestrianised sections of Sutton High Street and they can be excluded from locations where cycling is not permitted. This is work in progress which will continue during the course of the contract and we welcome resident feedback initially or during the course of the contract.

HumanForest were appointed as the supplier for the ebike hire scheme following a procurement exercise in spring 2022 for both Sutton and Kingston Councils. This is a “concession contract” and as such the boroughs do not pay the operator, who makes revenue from bike hire and “in-app” advertisements”.

Sutton Council web pages contain links to report incorrectly or inconveniently parked ebikes and this information will be continuously updated with information on the Human Forest.  


Our Mayor, Trish, reading the proclamation that King Charles has become King

We were sad to learn of the death of the Queen. A book of condolence was made available for residents to sign at the Civic Offices.

The proclamation of the accession of King Charles, repeated in each borough, was made on Sunday 11 September in Trinity Square in Sutton town centre, led by our Mayor.

Richard signing the book of condolence at the Civic centre


The winning team


On 5 May 2022 the residents of Sutton South Ward elected the three of us as their Councillors. This was the first time that all three seats on Sutton Council in Sutton South Ward have been held by the Liberal Democrats. The number of votes we polled were

Richard      1718

Trish           1691

Louise        1521

The most successful Tory was some way behind on 1434 votes, while the most successful Labour candidate only got 579 votes. We are delighted at this show of support from the local community.  


Dunsfold Court in Blackbush Close is nearby and residents already say it is difficult to find a parking space

There are two proposals for tower blocks in Brighton Road, almost opposite each other, submitted by developers, that Trish and Richard are fighting. One is on the eastern side of the road close to Cavendish Road. This proposal for a five storey block with 36 flats but only four parking spaces has been rejected by Sutton Council planning officers on a number of grounds including design. Richard said of both proposals:

“While we need more accommodation these blocks, with little adjacent green space, are of poor design and would be blots on the landscape.”

The other proposal is almost opposite at the junction with Copse Hill. Developers have twice submitted proposals for this new tower block at the corner of Copse Hill, to be built after demolishing 2 and 4 Copse Hill, plus 52 and 54 Brighton Road. While housing is needed, we have also opposed this development as – unlike Dunsfold Court and Leith Towers nearby – it would have little green space around the site, and the parking provision proposed was inadequate, adding to parking pressures in the area. The block would be ugly, overbearing and a blot on the landscape.

These proposals were rejected by Sutton Council and the developers appealed to the remote Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, thus seeking to overturn democratic local decision taking. We are delighted that the Inspectorate has twice thrown out the proposals. They cite concerns over the overbearing character and appearance of the proposed block, a lack of outdoor amenity space (play areas and garden) and the mix of housing proposed (the number of small one bedroom flats). The Inspectorate rejected concerns about flooding and did not comment on our concerns over parking.

This may not be the end of the story so we will watch out for further proposals. Radical changes to planning arrangements were proposed in the recent White Paper on planning from the Conservative Government, proposals that in some areas would abolish these arrangements for comment on planning applications and lead to proposals being automatically agreed. Pressure from the Liberal Democrats, and our victory in the Chesham and Amersham by-election, where planning changes was an issue, seems to be forcing a re-think, but these proposals are still, as of now, Government policy. These Government proposals would remove the right of local residents to comment on planning applications, in some circumstances. Richard made a speech at Sutton Council on 12 July attacking these proposals, which undermine local democracy.

The site of the proposed block, viewed from Brighton Road


Richard with the tree we got planted at White Lodge Close

We have a manifesto commitment to plant more trees, to improve air quality, combat global warming and promote the green, suburban feel of Sutton. We will be planting new trees in the next few months in Downside Road, Upland Road, Willis Avenue and Prior Avenue.

We were delighted when, in accordance with the commitment to plant more trees to combat global warming, two new trees were planted in early 2021 in The Ridgway. The story concerning the tree outside number 23 is interesting. Many years ago there was a tree pit here and a tree. The tree died. Contractors tarmaced over the tree pit. The tarmac would periodically sag. Richard suggested restoring the tree pit and planting a tree. This was done. The photo was taken during the brief fall of snow on 24 January 2021.


In 1988 the South Sutton Neighbourhood Association celebrated the tenth anniversary of its foundation by funding a bench in Cavendish Road close to Ambleside Gardens. Richard noticed that the bench was, after over twenty years of use and exposure to the elements, in a very sorry state. He took action to get the bench restored, with the plaque explaining the history of the bench moved to the new bench.


Sutton South Ward – an affluent area with shocking pockets of poverty

At the meeting of Sutton Council on 17 January, chaired by Trish as our Mayor, Richard moved a motion drawing attention to the number of residents of the Ward living in poverty, the support they got from Sutton Council, and the need for Government to properly fund Councils, while increasing spending on welfare to help the poorest. This is the text of his speech:

“This motion is about poverty and the impact the pandemic has had in exacerbating the gap between the wealthy and the poor in what was already a very unequal society.

In current political debate the phrase “Levelling Up” is sometimes used, but in a vague and unspecific manner. I have always seen “levelling up” as a key political aim, but what I mean by this is the need to level up to help those in poverty. It is a preoccupation that is one of the reasons I have always wanted to play a part in public service and political life. I am a Councillor for Sutton South Ward, one of the more affluent Wards in a borough that is more affluent than most of the 32 London boroughs. But in knocking on the doors of my residents I sometimes find people living in shocking poverty, families crowded into small flats, well down the queue for social housing despite their crowded living circumstances, using food banks, often struggling to put food on the table, sometimes out of work due to long term illness but often in these circumstances despite working long hours in low paid jobs. The statistics are frightening – in a borough with a population of about 200 000 over 18 000 of our residents are in such poverty that they are relying on Universal Credit to feed themselves and make ends meet, while over 800 of our families are homeless and living temporarily in nightly-paid accommodation, often far from Sutton with all the problems of getting their children to school here.

Who is helping these families? Not the Government, and the low point was reached on the sixth of October of last year when, on the very day that the Government cut £20 a week from the welfare support to the poorest in society, making us one of the European countries that gives least help to the poorest in society from welfare, Boris Johnson made his famous closing speech to the Tory party conference which even one Conservative newspaper described as being like an after dinner speech full of jokey one-liners rather than a serious speech, talking in serious terms, about serious problems, given by a serious politician. We are still waiting for such a speech. I doubt if we will ever get it. And I think that even the Tories now doubt we ever get it. And in recent months it has become evident that the public at large have clearly recognised we will never get it.

The Resolution Foundation estimated that despite the minimum wage rise and other Government tinkering, the lowest paid fifth of households will lose £280 in support this financial year – and that was before the rise in National Insurance contributions was announced, and before the coming tidal wave of inflationary pressures became clear. This is a massive sum for those whose budgets are so stretched. Not a lot of “Levelling Up” here.

By contrast, what does local Government do? Despite the £36 million annual cut from our budget by central Government since 2010 Sutton Council continues to give priority to services that help the poorest, in accordance with our Liberal Democrat principles. We are one of a minority of Councils keeping Meals on Wheels going. We fund Admiral nurses to help families struggling with illness and dementia. We maintain a system of crisis loans and grants for those in greatest need, though central Government support for this was cut back years ago. We support families whose children are eligible for Free School Meals due to the financial position of the family, children who might otherwise go hungry over holiday periods. We can hold our heads high.

We have stuck to our principles and to these policies while maintaining our concern for financial responsibility – and despite the savings and cuts to services we have had to make over the years to balance the books as Government support has been cut. The pandemic has added a further layer of financial difficulty with demands for community support that the Council has responded to magnificently, but that have been expensive.

What this motion says is:

The pandemic has left many families struggling to survive financially

The actions of Government have not helped them

We are the key driver locally to spearhead the recovery of the community and help those in most need

We need to be funded properly and the welfare support to those of our residents who are the poorest in society needs to be restored.”


Many of our residents use Warren Park, and the footpath between the railway lines has a real rural feel about it. A small area of Warren Park is protected by a wooden picket fence, to prevent the area being trampled. This is an area of chalk grassland, an important area for biodiversity which encourages some unusual plants and butterflies. Earlier in the year the fence was extensively vandalised and the area damaged by trampling (and dog poo). There was discussion, which we were involved in, about whether the fence should be repaired, replaced by sturdier fencing that would be more effective but unsightly, or removed, with the biodiversity area abandoned.
Eventually it was repaired but within a few days it had been extensively vandalised again. It has now been repaired yet again and notices put on the fencing to try to explain the importance of the area and to appeal to the vandals to leave it alone.
We are not sure what the impact is likely to be but hope for the best. 


On Friday 15 October Richard joined residents of Sutton Court and Beauclere House (in Brighton Road) on a “walkabout” of the estate to look at issues the residents wanted to raise. The party was joined by Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) staff, including the estate manager and the Chief Executive of SHP. SHP manage the housing stock originally owned by the Council as social housing, but about half of the properties in Sutton Court have been purchased by residents under the “Right To Buy” provisions so are now rented out in the private sector rather than being social housing. The residents raised a variety of issues including surfaces that needed re-painting, guttering, garage roofs, faulty lights and notice boards that needed attention.


Dunsfold Court in Blackbush Close is next to the site and residents say it is difficult to find a parking space

Several residents of Copse Hill and Dunsfold Court have put to us the point that the parking bay reserved for motorcyclists outside Dunsfold Court is rarely used by motorcyclists, and that those with a motorcycle do not usually have difficulty finding somewhere off the road to park.

Consequently we have explored the suggestion that this be restored as a parking place for other vehicles, alongside the adjacent parking places, and this change will go ahead unless there is significant local objection. Please let us know if you have views on this.

We are aware of pressures on parking spaces in the area, which is one of the reasons we opposed the proposal for a new tower block with relatively few parking spaces at 2 Copse Hill. This proposal, twice turned down by the Council, is again with the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol as an appeal.

We are also aware of a proposal for a further block of flats opposite, on the other side of Brighton Road, which was also deficient in terms of the number of parking spaces. This proposal is not yet the subject of a planning application and we are concerned about policies set out in the recent Government White Paper on planning that would, in some areas, lead to automatic consent to planning applications without a process of neighbourhood consultation. We will keep residents advised of progress.