It is an age since I put “pen to paper” and wrote to everyone about my life as an Independent Councillor. I have said many times it is a privilege to represent the residents of Beddington North Ward and the wider community but over the last year the following question has popped into my mind on many occasions “do we get the local government we deserve”? This is, in my view, the 64,000 dollar question as there was quite a low turnout for the last Council elections and ruling parties, like sitting MPs, love low turnouts. The answer therefore is “yes”.
In my role as an Independent Councillor I try hard to bypass the political agenda and look at what is right for residents of the London Borough of Sutton. Of course my views, and that of my fellow Independent Councillors, rarely make a dent in the bow wave of the battleship Dombey as she sails majestically along the ocean of the London Borough of Sutton but it does not stop us trying. Sometimes I find myself in agreement with the official Tory opposition but I like being able to plot my own course, voicing my approval or, in most cases, disapproval of the policies being presented.
However, over the recent months I have found myself more and more at odds with the decisions being passed by the majority party. For instance, is it right to charge charities and voluntary organisations to pay for using the parks to raise money to benefit the local communities – my answer was definitely no.
I think if I am right this was discussed at the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee last December and I told members of the Committee they would miss the charitable and voluntary organisations contributions to local charities when they were gone and did they want to be known as “Scrooge”.
Of course, I was told, the organisations can apply for a grant but what is the point of spending public money in administering such a process when just an “fine we’ve booked the park for you pending risk assessments” is all that is needed. Had there been more Independent Councillors this might have been defeated.
Now following on from the debacle of the Parking Strategy residents are facing the LTN scheme, a question was asked about carers and district nurses who have calls to make during the school road closures and the very arrogant answer was “they’ll just have to park further away and walk”. I sincerely hope no member of the battleship Dombey has a relative who will need urgent care during the time of the closures.
They also talk about LTN improving air quality. Presumably they can provide us with air quality readings prior to the closure of these roads which can be measured against future air quality readings. What is more, no consultation, just the pressure from a small action group and the excuse a consultation will take place over six months.
Well, you and I know perfectly well that consultations with this Council mean absolutely nothing and they love the fact that only a small percentage of the resident population take part in them. Probably because residents feel “what’s the point, they’ll do what they want anyway”. That attitude is I’m afraid true but if more residents gave serious thought to standing in the local council elections in 2022 as an Independent it just may be the Sutton Independent Residents Group could really make a difference.
I cannot stress enough that it is time for a change. My own view is there is no room in the London Borough of Sutton for party politics. Time and again I have stressed we should all work together for the good of the residents of Sutton because they deserve better.
If anyone is thinking of standing as an Independent please get in touch with me, as Leader of Sutton Independent Residents Group, or my fellow Independent Councillors Tim Foster and Nick Mattey. We will be more than happy to speak to you about what it entails to be a local Councillor.
We can be contacted thus: