Sheen Way Playing Fields Some Thoughts From Councillor Jillian Green

Councillor Jillian Green Highview Resident and Champion for Sheen Way

Okay, hands up who attended the debacle of a consultation at The Change Foundation last Thursday?  Were you as disappointed as me in its organisation?   Councillors had warned the organisers, I assume Kier, to expect at least 400 residents from the High View Estate let alone parents, children, teachers and other interested parties so they put it in a small hall which became so crowded you couldn’t get near the display boards, so noisy you couldn’t hear yourself think and each table staffed by a youngster who had no knowledge of anything and couldn’t answer any questions. This was certainly not my idea of a public consultation, was it yours?

A proper public consultation in my view is where you visit a, let us say, large hall, with the displays round the walls and audience seating in the middle.  At a certain time the audience takes a seat and faces a panel of “experts” who can answer all the questions put to them.

 

Forgive me if I am cynical but I have asked for copies of all the questionnaires as I don’t trust the “independent” body responsible for collating it and publishing the data.  Whether as your democratically elected Councillor I get to see them is anybody’s guess but I will press them again.

I am sure someone said that a leaflet would be coming round with a link to a website where those who did not attend could leave their comments.  Well I’ll go the foot of our stairs, we got one today (Sunday) but it seems it was not put round all the houses on the High View Estate.  Tim Foster who lives off Croydon Road got one.  I will definitely be contacting Keir and Department for Education tomorrow.  I might even send them a copy of this blog!! 

I was approached on Thursday by some parents who are angry that I am not supporting the project.  Phrases such as “you think it will lower the tone of your neighbourhood”, “why can’t families play in their back gardens”, “you only want it to walk your dog” and “it’s near Mellows” were levelled at me.

Let me make this very clear, I absolutely support the need for a new school but I think the children deserve better than being bussed into an estate with narrow streets and receiving their education next to a railway line, industrial units and residential housing is the wrong thing to do. Some parents do not wish their children to have to attend the proposed new school because of increased journey times and as one of the pupils said “Mum it looks like a prison”.

The children, staff and parents deserve a much better open site with easy access via roads and public transport.

 

Since July 2017 when I first got involved in this, I have vehemently opposed any form of development on the playing fields.  The developer who built the estate in the 1920s and 30s left the space for the residents of Highview Estate and their children and the only building allowed was a sports pavilion.

Sheen Way Playing Field is a flood plain, it takes water away from the houses that back on to it and the railway line and to build on it is madness.  The Council did not look specifically for another site because Councillor Jayne McCoy, Lead Liberal Democrat on Planning, decided through her task and finish group that it would go on Sheen Way.

Before I was elected, as a simple local resident, I went to the meeting where they agreed the lease, subject to planning.  Cllr. McCoy’s attitude to the residents was, as seems to be the Liberal Democrat mantra these days vis a vis the Controlled Parking Zone Strategy, one of utter contempt and we were told we will just have to get on with it.  Do they realise that they lost their two Lib Dem Councillors in Beddington North because of this attitude?

My concerns from Thursday are many including have the Council, DfE or Kier built into their budget compensation claims from those affected by noise, air pollution vibration and flood damage?  Have the Council considered reduction in Council tax for those seriously affected by this proposal i.e. the residents of The Chase, Capel Avenue, part of Godalming Avenue and Headley Avenue? We all know the Council wishes to get rid of polluting cars because they are concerned about air quality so I suppose part of this plan will be the single and yellow lines all over the estate but where are residents going to park? 

Have they considered that the children may be stuck in their vehicles for ages if the Purley Way is blocked and we are told they will not be able to come down Plough Lane and along The Chase.  Of course drivers will ignore this instruction if they have very upset pupils to deal with and they will then get tied up with the traffic from Highview Primary.

The thing that has upset me the most was seeing our elderly residents on Thursday evening crying because the stress and worry is destroying not only their quality of life but that of the whole estate.  The Liberal Democrats keep spouting they are a green Council but just pay lip service to their residents.  I promise you all this, seeing my neighbours in tears because of this ill conceived and ill thought out plan I and my fellow Councillors will fight this with every means at our disposal.

Reviewing the Constitution

In amongst the excitement of the Planning Committee and the Pre-Application Consultation on the Sheen Way Playing Fields, I spent an hour with a Council appointed consultant who is conducting a review of the Council’s Constitution.

Concerned residents will already have come across the vagaries on this document whether attempting to address the Local Committee about Sheen Way or Full Council about the Parking Strategy.  “Standing Orders” are quoted and open debate denied whereas the real objective of any Constitution should be to protect the integrity of the whole process of local government.

But where Moses needed just 10 Commandments – the London Borough of Sutton needs nearly 250 pages and then does not do the job properly.

For example, with the recent increases in Councillor Allowances – 5 leading members of the ruling Liberal Democrat group receive in excess of £30,000 per annum where the base allowance is just £11,164.  Are there proper job descriptions in the Constitution, performance and attendance criteria?  No, just some very loose guidelines.

And why bury the Nolan Principles of Public Life on the back pages – these should be the very foundation of our Constitution?

BUT I am pleased to say that communities are beginning to understand that they cannot leave things to chance.  But beware of how the system can be turned back against that “people power”.

Up at St Helier, the hotbed of the movement established to counter the ill conceived and appallingly administered Parking Strategy.  The residents, brilliantly lead by Sandra Ackland appear to have forced a rethink.  I say appear, because the content of that “rethink” comes in the form of a Lib Dem Focus Leaflet together with emails from Cllr Abellan, Cllr Andrew and even Cllr Dombey.

They have even had Tom Brake out delivering the leaflet and it invites opinions from residents to be returned to the Lib Dems.

But please note – all of this is done in the name of the Lib Dems NOT the London Borough of Sutton.

When the Beddington North Focus Group emailed residents on the Highview Estate saying that they could only support the building of a SEN school if access came through Morrissons – I wrote to Cllr Dombey and asked if this reflected a new policy.

She stated that this was just the view of the local Liberal Democrat Group!  But it did not stop Tom Brake MP repeating the claim to another resident via email!

And talking of Tom Brake, he was one of four senior Lib Dems to put in an appearance at Cricket for Change last Thursday for the presentation of outline plans for a new SEN school that they wish to impose on Highview Residents on the former Playing Fields at Sheen Way.

With Lib Dem Councillors from as far afield as Worcester Park, the local MP and the prospective Conservative candidate for Mr Brake’s seat – this is clearly not just another plan, it is a political hot potato.

When you consider that Orchard Hill run Carew Manor because of the appalling OFSTED report when the London Borough of Sutton ran it, that would flag a concern.

Sutton Guardian – Thursday 25th April2019

 

But add to that the 2018 report by OFSTED that found “significant areas of weaknesses” in the SEND services provided by the Council and now the ongoing battle about the EHCP process, it explained the attitude of some of the parents from Carew Manor School who felt that the Council just did not want to invest in SEN schooling.

“They will build new primary and secondary schools but we have to wait for the DoE to fund us.”

We believe that those involved from the Department of Education, the contractors Kier as well as those Councillors bussed in to support the plan were left in no doubt as to both the passion of the local residents and the irrational nature of a plan to construct a Special Needs School at the end of a narrow cul de sac, just 12 metres from a railway line and on a flood plain.

As for traffic – a quick calculation shows if the school becomes operational, twin daily peaks of over a half kilometre of traffic feeding in and out of the site.

When discussing the plan with the previous Chief Executive, he described the plan as “Bonkers” and even his bête noire, Cllr Mattey would surely have agreed with him!

Councillor Mattey – An Environmental Champion

Beddington North – It’s Not Too Late to Get Involved

If you wondered why you were in traffic jams in the past week or so the end of the tax year meant that for most major organisations, 2019/20 budgets come into play.

How might that affect us in Beddington – well, the Beddington Lane Improvement Scheme will swing into its next phase and we will be blessed with the temporary disruption that will bring!

Recently, we Councillors were invited to a briefing by National Grid about “The Beddington to Rowdown Cable Replacement Project”.  I have to say, we approached with some level of trepidation but were very impressed with their planning and the minimal level of disruption it will involve.

 

They will be introducing heavy cables (50 tons per kilometre!) at Rowdown (near New Addington) through existing tunnels to Beddington.  The only activity we will see at the Beddington Lane end is 2 – 3 HGV deliveries a week of steel to their base next to Wickes.

They have a dedicated Community Relations Team working on the project available 7 days a week, 7.00am – 7.00pm on 0800 0731047.

Thumbs up to National Grid for their planning and their pro-active communications!

However, it is not all good news for users and residents of Beddington Lane – Planning Committee on Wednesday will see the proposal from Prologis for warehousing on the site in front of the incinerator.

That new buildings will hide the incinerator and that is about the only good thing about this development – because it is all about logistics companies and transport. Access to and from the plant will be the incinerator access road and the roundabout – of course that will mean more traffic on Coomber Way and more heading north over Mitcham Common.  If Croydon North’s MP thought things were bad now, he ain’t seen nothing yet!

And don’t forget, we still have that other little matter of an application by SUEZ – whether you are philosophically opposed to a plant making incinerator fuel from waste, 24-hour working and 700 vehicle movements a day may tick you off.

Councillor Mattey has already put in an objection to the SUEZ application and from my seat on the Planning Committee,I will be posing some questions – but everyone needs to be aware of what is happening in Beddington North.

The Council is determined to railroad their plans for Beddington Lane, for taking SEN children out of the park and putting them next to the railway on Sheen Way and we haven’t yet had the pleasure of their thoughts on parking!

The Sutton Independent Residents will keep fighting on your behalf but make sure that you all get involved and have your say at:

Planning Committee is on Wednesday 24th April at 7.30 pm in the Civic Centre

Sheen Way Pre-Planning Presentation at Cricket for Change in Plough Lane 4.00pm – 8.00pm – just drop in anytime between those times on Thursday 25th April

Local Committee at the Croygas Sports Club on Mollison Drive 7.00pm on Tuesday 30th April.

Reflections on Democracy

Now the dust has settled on the By-Election in Wallington North, it is perhaps time for a little reflection on what it all means.

The Liberal Democrat candidate won and there may be celebrants of that fact but I cannot be one of them – not because of the faults, foibles or anything else surrounding the candidate or his party but rather that just 2,726 people turned out to vote – just 31.36% of the electorate.

 

Politicians of all parties appear to have accepted, even embraced this apathy because they can win a seat by polling less than 12% of the vote.  With the encouragement of postal voting, it means that a well organised minority party can virtually win before polling day – the identity of the person on the ballot paper or their abilities are an insignificant part of the equation.

We have seen plenty of this at a National level with the fools in Westminster – the most sinister impact on all of us if we respond to this in the wrong way, in other words with the levels of apathy shown locally.

We need involvement, we need commitment and anyone following the local saga of the London Borough of Sutton’s Parking Strategy will know that we need to make ourselves heard. 

Sandra Ackland and her team are in the process of delivering 46,000 leaflets in those areas where residents are already realising that the steamroller of Liberal Democrat disdain for democracy and residents’ opinions is already in evidence.

It is going to affect everybody who owns a car or a van – or needs to provide care visits or even earn a living.  Get informed – Get Involved – Get Vocal.