On 12 June Richard, as Mayor attended many local street parties

On 12 June Richard, as Mayor attended many local street parties

At the South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee on 9 June some interesting and encouraging statistics were presented on our part of Sutton, drawn from the latest independent survey of the views of Sutton residents.

They showed that 83% of our residents are satisfied with how the Council runs things. More than half agreed that Sutton Council provides value for money in the services it provides. Some 83% of residents said they were satisfied with the area as a place to live.

Local residents feel fairly well informed about about the services and benefits provided by Sutton Council, with 79% agreeing that they were well informed. 75% feel informed about how their Council tax is spent and 76% believe they can influence Council-run services in their area. In each case these figures are significantly above the figures in Sutton as a whole (the comparative figures being 64%, 65%, 51%).

Local residents have significantly lower levels of worry about crime in the area, for every category of crime. Almost all feel safe walking alone in the neighbourhood by day and thre quarters feel safe walking alone in the neighbourhood after dark.

Our residents are great volunteers – over one in three regularly volunteer, compared to 19% in Sutton as a whole.



cloverleaf rides


Richard writes “I was very touched by the confidence shown in me by fellow Councillors in choosing to elect me Mayor. My first day as Mayor, following my election, involved two contrasting events that I attended with my wife Gloria, the Mayoress. I am told that in the course of my year as Mayor I may well attend over 300 events, and I hope they are all as stimulating as those on day one.

First, I had to cut the ribbon at the start of the “Cloverleaf” cycle ride commencing in the town centre. These evening rides are into their twentieth season and involve a ride of a couple of hours one evening a week during the summer months. A crowd of about thirty cyclists assembled. I was able to tell them that I am a cyclist, owner of a Dawes Galaxy bike, and twice completed the annual London to Brighton bike ride, as well as cycling across France to Chartres ten years ago to visit the cathedral there. Some of the cyclists are collecting sponsorship money so I offered that if they collect sponsorship for the Mayor’s charity appeal, supporting Sutton Shopmobility and the Altzheimer’s Society, I would invite them into the Mayor’s Parlour for a chat and a photo.

The second event was at All Saints church, Hackbridge and Beddington Corner, where the Reverend Susan Lynn Billin was licensed as priest-in-charge by the Bishop of Croydon. This was a moving service in a parish that has been without a priest-in-charge for about a year but that clearly has a big and enthusiastic congregation. I joined the MP Tom Brake in wishing Lynn the very best in taking on these responsibilities.”

[Further information on Richard’s day-by-day activities as Mayor are on his blog. Scroll back to the top of the page and find Richard’s Blog.]

outside house mayor


mayor self

At the meeting of Sutton Council on 23 May, when the new Mayor is elected and the membership of committees are changed, Trish and Richard took on new responsibilities. Trish continues a s a member of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee, is elected to the Standards Committee, and will sit on the Merton and Sutton Joint Cemetery Board. Richard stands down as chair of Planning Committee and is elected Mayor for the next year.

mayor two

Here is the text of Richard’s acceptance speech.

“I have during the six years that I have been a member of this Council served under five Mayors, three of whom are currently members of the Council. All of them did the job with great distinction. Gloria and I will do our best to continue in that tradition.

I have many people to thank, but can I particularly thank our musicians. My good friends John, George, Rachel, Stephen and Andrew. When I was first elected to the Council there was a tradition of having some music during the natural interval that occurs in the middle of these annual meetings. It somehow lapsed but I was determined to revive it with – of course – brass musical instruments.

Last year there was a review of the functions of the Mayor. The review report noted the long tradition in the cities, towns and boroughs of our country of the office of a Mayor, and in London the history can be traced back to 1189. But the report included proposals to bring the Mayor of Sutton into the 21st. century by promoting the Mayor through, and I quote the report, “twitter, facebook and a Mayoral blog on the Council’s website.” I hope this will become required reading for all of you and I will try to find something interesting or amusing to say each week, and you can give me marks out of ten.

Of course, these different Mayors, stretching back to 1189, had a wide variety of ceremonial and policy functions. The promotion of charities to aid those less fortunate in life is however a recurring theme throughout, and a role of the Mayor that continues, which brings me to the subject of charities. I am pleased to be able to tell you of the two charities I propose we support this year.

These are Sutton Shopmobility and the Altzheimer’s Society. The Altzheimer’s society has a strong presence in Sutton and the Council has worked hard on the theme of being a dementia friendly organisation. I have a personal interest as both of my late parents had severe dementia late in life and were cared for by family members who were greatly helped by the society. And it is the families and carers who often most need most support.

Shopmobility is probably thought of by many of you as a provider of mobility scooters to help people shop in the town centre, but the organisation has a much wider role and outreach to help all those with mobility problems, and there are many in the borough who would be completely housebound without this help. And we have Councillor Patel’s mobility scooter here to show us how important it is. In the audience tonight are some representatives of the charities and I hope Councillors will want to discuss the work of these charities with them later thisevening.

I would also like to appeal to all Councillors and indeed to everyone in this room to make a resolution to support the Mayor’s charitable appeal, and support at least one of the Mayor’s charity events this year, to support these worthy organisations.

Now, finally, I am advised that the Mayor may appoint a Chaplin and I am delighted that the Reverend Justine Middlemiss has agreed to be my Chaplin. Justine covers a number of churches in Sutton including the splendid Victorian church, Christchurch, in my Ward, which has splendid acoustics – as I know from playing the trumpet, a small part in a big band, in the church.

Now, Justine asked me a very pertinent question when I spoke to her about being the Mayor’s Chaplin. She asked me what do I want a Chaplin for? Well, part of the job description is to give the Mayor spiritual guidance and spiritual uplift. And being as human as everyone else, there are moments I feel a bit down and in need of spiritual uplift. Whether or not I need much spiritual uplift in the next year may depend a bit on you – I am talking to the Councillors now – and on whether you are well behaved and orderly when I come to chair these meetings.

But I have an advantage. For the last two years of my life I have chaired Planning Committee. And if there is any one member of the Council who sometimes needs a bit of spiritual uplift it is the chair of Planning Committee. So can I say how delighted I am that a Councillor of the calibre of Councillor Bourne is succeeding me in taking on this portfolio. She will do the job much better than I did. And Sam, if you find, as I did, that from time to time you need a bit of spiritual uplift – I will loan you Justine.

Now in a moment, if I can dispose of the rest of the agenda with dispatch, and I know Councillors will want to help me do this, we are going to enjoy the traditional reception put on by the incoming Mayor at these annual meetings. This is not a celebration of me, Councillor Patel and Councillor Cooke moving into these positions. It is a celebration we have once a year of the civic traditions of Sutton and our shared commitment to public service to the benefit of our residents. We know that there are sometimes pointed exchanges across the floor of the Council but there is much more that unites all of us in this room than that divides us. It is a mutual respect and a mutual belief that we all share in the virtues of public service, we would not be Councillors unless we had that shared belief, and tonight I would like you to share with me a celebration of these virtues.

That concludes my remarks under item 5, except to say it is a great honour to be elected Mayor of the borough. I am deeply touched. Gloria and I will do everything to repay the trust you have shown in us. It will be a great year for all of us, and I sincerely thank you.”


berridge road sign

Following a campaign led by Richard and Trish, Sutton Council have named a previously un-named road in our Ward just south of Sutton station after a distinguished local inventor and engineer who once lived there.

On March 31 the two Councillors, with local residents and Sutton Council officers, supervised the erection of the street sign.

The road is a turning off the Brighton Road that separates Raeburn House from the new Subsea7 offices, under construction, and is now named Berridge Close.

This is to remember Harold Berridge (1872-1949), a celebrated engineer who lived in a house on the site now occupied by the Subsea7 offices, from the 1920s through to 1949. Berridge was an engineer who travelled the world and contributed to many important civil engineering projects worldwide, including the building of tunnels under the river Hudson in New York in 1902 and the development of the port of Aden – in modern day Yemen – in the ensuing decade. He settled in Sutton in the 1920’s to work on housing development for the London County Council. He is noted in civil engineering circles as the inventor of equipment for the testing of concrete, based on principles which are still relevant to modern day equipment used for this purpose.

Trish said “We favour naming roads after celebrated local people and think it is appropriate to name this road after an interesting and distinguished man who once lived here, and made a significant contribution to civil engineering.”

Harold Berridge was born in 1872 and went to the City of London school. After serving a pupilage in civil engineering from 1890 to 1893 he became the resident engineer at Poole Harbour in 1893.

After working as an engineer for companies including John Mowlem & Co. and the City and South London Railway in the period to 1898, he became Assistant Superintendent supervising the approaches to the Hudson Tunnel, in New York, in 1902, before becoming Chief Engineer to the Aden Port Trust in 1904. He was involved in work in Aden through to 1924, after which he worked on housing development schemes for the London County Council through to 1931. During his time in Aden he was awarded the OBE.

The Times of 20 June 1949 reports his death, on 17 June 1949, at 8 Worcester Gardens, Sutton, Surrey. Worcester Gardens stood on the site now occupied by the Subsea7 building in Brighton Road, and was a turning off the Brighton Road. Berridge lived in a Victorian house in Worcester Gardens.

Berridge is remembered for his patents relating to principles and equipment for the testing of concrete, including one dating from 1925 under the title “Contractible and expansible supporting means suitable for use in the construction of pipes, tunnels, bridges and other bodies or structures.” In 1932 he submitted an important patent entitled ”Apparatus for Testing the Strength of Materials.” His equipment for the testing of concrete was based on principles which are still relevant to modern day equipment used for this purpose.


R and T at station small

Southern have been consulting on certain changes to Sutton station that will involve the closure of the ticket office. The details are on their website at

Richard and Trish have helped draft the response from the Council, opposing this change. The following is an extract from the lengthy and considered Council response.

“The Council strongly objects to the proposed closure of Sutton ticket office. Sutton is the 6 th busiest station on the Southern network and 7th busiest in south London, having almost 7 million passenger entries and exits per annum. The Council has major growth plans for Sutton, a Metropolitan town centre, in terms of housing and employment, which will result in a significant increase in station usage over the next decade. The Council has also recently completed the Station Gateway scheme at Sutton, which made some significant improvements to area outside the station, as well as opening the side entrance. The ticket office at Sutton is well used most of the time and there is often a queue. We consider that the ticket office at Sutton should remain open during the peak times at least, and this should include the busy periods at weekends when there are a considerable number of leisure and infrequent passengers who do not have smartcards and may need advice or help. Outside peak times sufficient staff should be available on the concourse to sell tickets and assist passengers with the machines. As the station concourse in front of the ticket barriers at Sutton is quite small and congested we would suggest having a station host desk or podium in the existing ticket hall with a formal queuing system as for the ticket office. Many stations in your “Model 3″ outside London have much lower usage than Sutton yet are to retain their ticket office, and we consider it is important that this major London Metropolitan town centre should retain a ticket office facility.”

We have reproduced below some of the key points made by Southern, taken from their website. Most residents use the train service from Sutton station from time to time and those we have discussed this issue with support our view that this is a proposal we should object to.


Southern point out that the majority of customers use ticket machines rather than the ticket office. They propose to establish a “station hosting point” with the staff available on the concourse, able to sell the full range of tickets from first to last train. They propose to move staff onto the concourse as ‘Station Hosts’

The website states that Station Hosts will be:

  • visible and available from first service until the last, which is longer than current ticket office hours
  • trained in customer service
  • able to sell tickets and provide information using a new handheld device
  • helping passengers use the ticket machines

Sutton station will have a Host on duty at specified times, Monday to Friday 5.25 to 23.00, Saturday 6.25 to 23.00, Sunday 7.00 to 23.00, these being in excess of the current ticket office hours as the ticket office closes at 9pm. The Host will provide assistance with ticket purchases, information provision and assisted travel. The Host will have a hand held ticketing system that will enable them to provide tickets that are not available from the self-service machines.

The Ticket Office will close. The primary point for purchasing tickets on the station will be from the self-service machines or from the Station Host. In the event that a ticket type is not available through these machines then the Host will have access to a ticket office machine within the concourse area to enable those ticket types to be issued.

Southern State “At some of our stations we know that our ticket offices sell fewer than 12 tickets per hour and the vast majority of customers don’t use the ticket offices on a daily basis. At these stations, we want our staff to become more available for all users of the station and ensure there is a visible presence on our station concourses where they can help customers with all of their queries, provide information, offer assistance and have the ability to sell tickets when needed.

At some of our busier stations, we want to relocate the ticket selling equipment to a station hosting point so the staff are available on the concourse, able to sell the full range of tickets but for longer times than today.

We believe that this will provide an improved customer experience, with all the affected stations being staffed from the very first to last train, 7 days a week. Facilities such as waiting rooms will be open for longer and Station Hosts will be available answering customer queries, providing advice and assisting with ticket purchases.”




Trish is continuing her campaign to seek action on the allegations that pornographic films have been shot at locations in the Borough. She has recently been interviewed by both BBC radio and BBC television about these allegations, that pornographic films have been shot at public locations in the Borough, including one close to her home. Trish rightly said she was outraged by this, as it was an act of indecency in public, and children or other members of the public might observe it. The police should take action if they encounter such behaviour and seek additional powers if more powers are needed.

There is, of course, no evidence that this type of filming of obscene acts is any more prevalent in Sutton than elsewhere, as no-one is collecting data, but one has to have a concern about the people taking part in such filming (are these trafficked women?) and the possibility that such public acts of indecency might be observed by people, who will of course be horrified. And we all deplore pornography.

Trish being filmed by the BBC cameraman

Trish being filmed by the BBC cameraman


Social housing is under threat

Social housing is under threat

At the meeting of the Council on 7 March Richard drew attention to the serious implications of current Government housing policies, particularly as they affect the poor, expanding on the points he made to the meeting of the Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee on 8 February.

He drew attention to:

  • the increase in homelessness in the Borough, up 20% in the last year due to in part to changes in the benefit system
  • Government policy to reduce housing benefit to social tenants
  • the extension of the “right to buy” which will reduce the stock of social housing to rent
  • the requirement on Councils to sell “high value” Council homes, which will reduce the stock of social housing to rent
  • the fact that the policy on “starter homes” is an absolute con, as it will replace an obligation on those building new housing to provide affordable homes to rent by an obligation to provide a few units, that could cost up to £450 000, for sale at a discount to those wealthy enough to buy their own home. Thus it replaces a requirement that helps poor people living in rented accommodation by one that helps wealth people who can afford to buy a property
  • “All of this will affect our social tenants, but also private tenants who are living in squalid and overcrowded accommodation in this Borough, who will not be able to obtain social housing due to the reduction in the stock. The loss of social housing to rent on such a scale is a crisis. The loss of social housing to rent on such a scale is an attack on the poor. The loss of social housing to rent on such a scale is a very serious consequence of the policies of the current Government.”


Overton Grange school

Overton Grange school

Every borough in London is struggling to keep place with the increasing demand for school places. Sutton has done well to cope with the increased demand for primary school places. The bulge is now working its way through to secondary schools. Hence the need for Overton Grange school (the only secondary school in our Ward) to expand, and the need for a new school.

Sutton is doing well. It has the third-highest first-preference rate for secondary school places in London, with almost 80 per cent of local families receiving their first choice of school for their child – well above the London average of 68.52 per cent.

Sutton has once again achieved one of the best rates overall, with the percentage of families receiving one of their top-three preferences increasing to 94.5 per cent – up 1.5 per cent from 2015 and almost six percentage points above the London average of 88.64 per cent.

Parents in the borough have been told which secondary schools have made offers of places for their children for the September 2016 intake.

In September, these children will start at our secondary schools, officially ranked as being among the best in England for teaching and exam results. In 2015, the proportion of Sutton students scoring 5 or more A* to C grades including English and Maths was 76.9 per cent, well above the 2014 national average of 53.4 per cent. Across the borough, 83.5 per cent of pupils achieved five or more GCSEs.

Almost two-thirds (65.1 per cent) of students across the borough achieved the highest A-Level A*, A and B grades in 2015 and the percentage of Sutton students achieving an A-Level pass grade (A* to E) increased to 99.7 per cent from 98.5 per cent in 2014. This was well above the UK average.



devonshire google

On 18 February Richard and Trish attended the launch event for the consultation exercise on the new local plan for Sutton, held in the Europa Gallery in Sutton’s central library. They were both members of the small task group that drafted the main document being consulted on.

The consultation encompasses three documents:

  • The local plan “Issues and Preferred Options” document, to which Trish and Richard contributed, which revises the Sutton local plan last adopted in 2012
  • The draft Masterplan for Sutton Town Centre
  • The draft Masterplan for the London Cancer Hub, the area previously known as the Sutton hospital site, where the proposals include expansion of the world-renowned Institute of Cancer Research and a proposed new secondary school to cater for the expansion in the number of children in Sutton seeking secondary school places.

The plan aims to preserve the green, suburban feel of Sutton which our residents so like, with our many street trees, while meeting the aspiration to have enough homes in Sutton for our children to grow up here. In planning for new homes, there will be an emphasis on preserving the more suburban areas of the borough, and insisting on good quality design.

The plan takes account of the need to meet the increasing number of children the Borough has to find school places for, while not compromising on the excellent standard of Sutton schools. The plan looks at transport links, and preserves the route of the proposed Tramlink, for which we are seeking funding. The plan is being consulted on and we hope many residents will respond. Following the consultation, further documents will be prepared later in the year, and there will be further consultation. The weblink address to respond to the consultation is


The new bin store enclosure

The new bin store enclosure

Just before Christmas many residents in Cavendish Road complained to Richard and Trish about the state of the bin store at the front of Sherborne Court in Cavendish Road. This led to discussions with the managing agents and Sutton’s waste department. The main problem was that with the open bin area at the front there was a lot of fly tipping, so much so that the bins could not be accessed by the rubbish removal team to clear the area up. In the end the managing agents paid for a special rubbish removal operation and agreed to enclose the bin store.

The enclosure, pictured, is not a work of great design quality will certainly mean the rubbish is not visible to the road and local residents.