LOCAL Elections mean you can choose LOCAL Representatives

The emphasis on Local in the title is deliberate because it is about the streets that we live in, the schools our children attend and services to support the local community.

Your vote is not a vote about Corbyn or May – it is not about the NHS or Brexit – it is about local representation of your ward in the London Borough of Sutton.

We are familiar with the way career politicians are parachuted into General Elections – Emina Ibrahim, who represented Labour in last year’s General Election is a local Councillor …… in Haringey.  (There must be something about Haringey – Niall Bolger, the Chief Executive of the London Borough of Sutton and his financial right-hand man, Gerald Almeroth both came to us from Haringey!)

But local issues need local representation – people who live with the day to day outcomes of Council policy.

To the main political parties, representative numbers in Council are everything – in Beddington North for example, the Liberal Democrats have brought in an established political figure…….. from Carshalton.  That’s a long way from the lorries in Beddington Lane or the planned development chaos of Sheen Way!

And Labour too – every one of their Beddington North candidates has stood for election in other wards.  It seems party representation first, residents second. Of course, the Conservatives had a replacement ready to fill the breach left when one of their candidates withdrew – to all major parties, it’s just about the numbers.

I have lived in my ward for nearly 40 years, I raised a family here and I am standing as a candidate for Beddington North because we residents have become a secondary consideration to the current administration and, it appears, all political parties.

It is rewarding to know that I am not alone in believing in the need for Independent local action and I am proud to join Jillian Green and Nick Mattey to offer local residents a real choice on May 3rd, because it is really all about local residents not National political interests.

We are passionate about restoring pride in the where we live, helping to create a Borough to be proud of!

#LOCALANDVOCAL #INDEPENDENTSDAY3RDMAY

 

Why your vote matters

Chatting to a resident who lives on Richmond Green the other evening she was saying how distressed she was at the desolation of the area and the fact that she can often not park outside her house because of cars and vans parked there by people working on the  building site adding a rather plaintive comment.

“But what can you do?”

That is right up there with comments like “What’s the point?” when you ask if someone voted in an election.  It is a very simple point – the more people who vote, the less the politicians like it.

Remember the Referendum – a record turnout and the result none of the politicians or pundits expected.  They may talk about proportional representation, but the politicians, especially the radical left or right, love low turnouts.

Consider the ward of Beddington North – blighted by an incinerator, endless issues in Beddington Lane, blighted by a Local Plan that will destroy Green Spaces (Sheen Way Playing Fields and Metropolitan Open Land) and by the destruction of a settled, elderly community in Richmond Green.  For the Local Election on May 3rd, there are 8,011 registered voters in the ward – at the last election there was a 42.4% turnout down by a massive 28.8% on the previous election.

So, put the difference between those two turnouts into the context of May 3rd this year – at 42.4% 3,396 people will cast their votes – the higher number represents a 59.55% turnout or 4,770 people – an additional 1,374 voters each of whom have 3 votes.  In the 2014 vote that elected the current Councillors, the top three polled respectively 1,299,1,290 and 1,048 votes – those 1,374 people could have and probably would have made a big difference.

“But what can you do?”PLEASE VOTE – whatever your ward, whomsoever you support, your vote makes a difference for today, tomorrow and future generations.

And of course, if you live in Beddington North, there are three Independent candidates who will make a huge difference in Council:

Tim Foster – Jillian Green – Nick Mattey.

#LOCALANDVOCAL  #INDEPENDENTSDAY3RDMAY

It seems that it is all about the money – part II

There was a meeting on Monday evening about the administration of the electoral processes run for the benefit of candidates and agents.  Good to see that there were five Independent candidates – three for Beddington North – and there were also candidates from Greens and UKIP but the major parties were represented only by agents – you can understand why the front page of the main party websites all ask for donations to pay for their own infrastructure – we Independents rely on hard work and enthusiasm, but then as simple residents, it is a little hard to understand the l nature of the main parties’ approach to simple economics.

My route last night took me past the empty structure of the Charles Cryer theatre – empty as the Liberal Democrats seek “commercial rent” leaving the Borough a cultural desert, the more so as they plan to demolish Wallington Hall to build more flats.  So why do they allow the charity EcoLocal to take the Lodge in Carshalton at a discounted rate – of course Tom Brake’s patronage of the charity may have something to do with it but you either drive a “commercial” policy or you don’t.

But then you read the recent Conservative newspaper sized leaflet which headlines the offer to give residents a refund if their bins are not collected.  Look further down the page in the right- hand column and the same paper criticises the incumbent party of spending a huge amount on a computer system for monitoring waste collection and the continued weekly expenditure because the systems are not properly recording failure.  So, if you don’t know the size of the problem and people cannot properly report the failure to collect bins, how on earth do you make the promise to refund money?

And the promise is not out of council coffers but those of the contractor – dangerous when you have not clearly established breach of contract.  But, like my student son and friends duped by promises about Student Loans made by another party at the General Election, we are all of us familiar with election promises!

Then there are the multiple limited companies established by the current administration – “start-ups” in business parlance – who have borrowed eye watering sums of money to “invest” in property. The reputed £30 million in Oxford on an office building is a monumental commitment and not sure how that compares with the £7.39 million spent on buying residential property locally.  I cannot think of any circumstance where a start-up company could take this level of commercial risk – but then it is us, the residents, who are taking the risk.

Any surprise that this authority has appeared so often in Private Eye’s “Rotten Boroughs”?

We know the constraints put on local authorities by Central Government – nothing new there, whatever the political colour – remember the Liberal Democrats were part of the Coalition who introduced austerity because the outgoing Labour Government had left little option.

Every political party has a portion of responsibility – it is we residents who have to cut our cloth.

Fat cat salaries at the executive level, over generous allowances to Councillors all need review but most especially a close look at the assets this wonderful Borough has and make the most of them on behalf of the residents, not some notional balance sheet or pursuit of political dogma

The most important asset isn’t, in fact, the bricks and mortar, it is the people and as an Independent candidate, I say cut the promises, cut the politics and let’s work together to make a Borough we can all be proud of.

#LOCALANDVOCAL #INDEPENDENTSDAY3RDMAY

Why Independent?

In the early seventies the Conservative Government of Edward Heath had to contend with an oil crisis prompted by new demands from the Middle East which coincided with a miners’ strike lead by Joe (later Lord) Gormley.  The country really suffered – workers went on a 3-day week and many of our offices were lit by candles.

The Labour party was lead at that time by Harold Wilson and, according to Joe Gormley’s autobiography, he and Mr Wilson met in the Turkish Baths near Westminster and discussed the crisis – quite understandable at that time that a committed Union leader would meet with the Labour leader. During that discussion Joe Gormley told Wilson, in confidence, that he had worked out a compromise that if miners were paid for the time that they showered after a shift, then the Government’s wage freeze would not be compromised and everyone could get back to work.

The next day in the Commons, Harold Wilson put Joe Gormley’s idea to the House as his proposal and, by making a political point of it, made it politically impossible for the Prime Minister to adopt the idea.  Joe Gormley said that never spoke to Harold Wilson again and our 3-day weeks continued up to an early General Election won by Harold Wilson.

Whether you blame the political intransigence of Heath or the deceit of Wilson, playing politics in that way cost us all money, drove us further into recession and illustrates the flaws of the tribalism that has infected our democracies.

In Sutton, when the Conservatives abstained from the vote on the local plan, their abstention, rather than voting against the plan, was said to have been influenced by not wanting to appear to be against building a school.

Well to our ward, that plan represented a further land grab of Metropolitan Open Land in Beddington Lane as well as the disruption of Sheen Way as they look to develop a school on the playing fields.  And so it was left to our Independent Councillor, Nick Mattey to represent our views – of course the other Beddington North Ward Councillors, Liberal Democrats Pathumal Ali and Nighat Piracha followed their party line rather than consider local sensibilities.

We are poorly served by the present administration of the London Borough of Sutton.  We need voices in Council that are not constrained by political diktat or PR, not guided by a complex party manifesto and not full of financial inducements and promises that may not be kept.  Local people deserve representation by their peers – local people who live in the same environment who want to be proud of where they live.

#LOCALANDVOCAL  #INDEPENDENTSDAY3RDMAY

Why You Need Representation by Local Residents

When I put together the website sutton-independent-residents.london within the Core Principles was the stated desire for 54 local people to put themselves forward as Independent candidates in the May local elections to contest every council seat in every ward.

I am very pleased to confirm that on “home” ground, in Beddington North, we have three Independent candidates to contest the election:

Nick Mattey has lived in the ward for 40 years and was elected as a Councillor representing the Liberal Democrats in the last election.  His vociferous objections to what is a very real local issue, the Viridor Incinerator, saw him expelled from the Liberal Democrats.  He has continued with his opposition to the incinerator and has represented the ward well. Typically, when the issue of adoption of the Local Plan, which included the development of the Sheen Way Playing Fields, was put before Council – the vote saw blanket approval by Liberal Democrats, abstention by the Conservatives and only one vote against – Nick Mattey!  It matters to the local people around the Chase, it should matter to a local Councillor!

Jillian Green lives on that Highview Estate and has campaigned vigorously on behalf of the residents who are concerned about access, traffic, homes compulsorily purchased and demolished to facilitate access to the site.  With the Liberal Democrat dominated Council bulldozing the matter, with the Conservatives abstaining there are not many places to go!  An active Rotarian, Jillian has worked hard for a community that she has lived in for nearly 40 years.  Her candidacy as an Independent is a logical extension of that service.

Tim Foster Moved into Upper Road by Mellows Park in 1979 and moved to Lavington Road in 1987, two kids born in St Helier both went to Highview. Tim became involved with the Beddington North Neighbourhood Forum and was asked to represent the BNNF in the early stages of consultation on the development of Richmond Green and soon realised that the consultation process was deeply flawed as was the subsequent planning.  On becoming involved with other local issues came the realisation of an urgent need for change and that the opportunity for that change was at the local elections this May.  Political dogma offers little help when it comes to local service and that is why Independent local candidacy was the obvious choice.

I hope other people will take up the baton and stand in their local ward – the reality is that the people who care most about their environment are those who live there.  The council appointed an officer, Rick Martinez to lead the consultation on Richmond Green – it came as a surprise to me when we were talking and he said that he didn’t even live in the Borough.  But then again, his boss, the Chief Executive, enjoys village life in East Sussex and it would take a hurricane for the pollution of the Beddington Incinerator to reach there!

Local residents best represent local issues.

#LOCALANDVOCAL #INDEPENDENTSDAY3RDMAY

Unusual Priorities

 

Yesterday afternoon on the hoarding around the Richmond Green development, the moderately sized artist’s impression of the proposed houses was replaced by a huge Perspex poster with a similar image but boasting of “building new homes for local people” pointing to a web address of sutton.gov.uk/newcouncilhousing .

On 11th September at a Full Council Meeting, I asked Councillor Jayne McCoy, Chair of the Housing Economic & Business Committee:

“It has been stated that some of the properties will be for affordable rent and some may be intermediate housing which is defined as homes for rent or for sale at a cost below market levels, this can include shared ownership housing where the occupier only purchases up to 35% of the equity and pays rent on the remainder or where the occupier pays an intermediate rent which is less than a market rent.  All fall within the definition of affordable housing.

What proportion will be shared ownership and will land value be taken into account when calculating “market” levels?”

In spite of the £7+ million  cost of the development, Ms McCoy was unable to provide an answer to that question especially disappointing given that the development required the demolition of 28 fully rented council properties but they have clearly.

This poster clearly clarifies the position – but I will ask!

However, if it is the case, why the expenditure on an expensive, oversized poster to advertise the fact.  I could understand if this was a developer trying to market the houses but these aren’t for sale, are they?

In an environment where the London Borough of Sutton Planning Department has consistently declined to enforce planning conditions and we have a pleasant riverside meadow that local residents have seen turned into a quagmire and roadway   s/footpaths destroyed by heavy lorries.

Consider – every HGV that has chewed Richmond Green to pieces has travelled the length of Richmond Road and the damage will be mirrored on that carriageway.

The London Borough of Sutton cannot protect the environment for local residents but it can spend enormous amounts of money promoting itself – if there an election soon?

Residents near the Ludlow site and Fellowes Road can expect the same soon!

#LOCALANDVOCAL #INDEPENDENTSDAY3RDMAY

 

 

It seems that it’s all about the money!

Last weekend, I had a business trip to Lyon in France where I was meeting a Belgian businessman who had served as an MP for the Flemish Parliament.

We briefly touched on Brexit but what he said next resonated with me – “the big problem we have is that European MP’s are paid €6,000 net per month, with taxes and social security, it would cost an employer in Belgium €250,000 a year to deliver that pay.”  He continued “What happens is that politicians therefore have to protect their pay because nobody else could afford to pay them and they give up their principles to follow the party line.”

I then thought back to the Full Council meeting recently where I asked questions about the status of Richmond Green and noted that there was absolutely no contribution to discussions from the majority of Liberal Democrat Councillors – so much so that, with the only questions posed by Conservative and Independent Councillors, the meeting looked adversarial when actually all that was being discussed were the concerns of residents.

Why would you be quiet? Well 23 of the Councillors in attendance that evening received allowances in excess of £19,000 per annum for their part time “service” when a full time Healthcare Assistant at St Helier is paid £18,957 – is that fair? Is it value for money?

Per capita of population, our Councillors receive some of the highest remuneration – because that is what it is, taxable pay – of any of the local Boroughs and when, at a recent Full Council meeting, it was suggested the current allowances were frozen to put something back in the pot for the Charles Cryer Theatre, the idea was rejected.

We can change the political balance on May 3rd and I for one would encourage those serving the local residents to perhaps forgo a proportion of their allowances – after all, the Liberal Democrats generously give 10% of their allowances to………the Liberal Democrats, to pay for the leaflets that tumble through your letterbox. Perhaps there is a more deserving cause!

 

#INDEPENDENTSDAY3RDMAY

#LOCALANDVOCAL