Does Truth Have to be the First Casualty?

It is an old quotation that in a war, that truth is the first casualty and whilst one hopes that analogising the May local elections to a war is an overstatement, the current Liberal Democrat administration fired the first shots of their campaign at this week’s Council meeting.

With a proposed motion entitled “Council recognises the significant achievements of this council in recent years……” – the leader of the Conservative group had questioned the Chief Executive and the Monitoring Officer over the legality of using the platform of a Full Council meeting to promote a political message.  That appeal was unsurprisingly rejected and I agreed to present a joint opposition amendment

For the record, the overwhelming majority enjoyed by the Liberal Democrats made their “achievements” a matter of record – I am sure that will be trumpeted somewhere but that is just to underline the current reality.

Because what was presented was an opaque, distorted version of the truth – a claim for credit for initiatives facilitated by the GLA or Central Government while ignoring the shortcomings that have been highlighted by very negative assessments from OFSTED and the Care Quality Commission, “Bingate”, cycle lanes, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that blocked emergency vehicles and the recent critique of the SDEN business case.

I quote from that CIPFA report : The basis on which the project was approved was not to the standard it should have been and the governance was not what should have been expected for such a novel project.”

One of the criticisms was that the Council had failed to follow the Treasury guidelines on investment following the “5 Case Business Case Model”.  Because like many Councils, the London Borough of Sutton has borrowed large amounts of Government money – £125+ million so far – to “invest” in order to generate revenue.  But there is a real danger in this easily accessed credit as we have seen from our neighbouring Borough of Croydon.

So to ignore Treasury advice is to risk the same – I asked with a Freedom of Information request, how many other investments from Opportunity Sutton, the London Cancer Hub, COGNUS, Sutton Works or the St Nicholas Centre had been assessed under this recommended “5 Case Business Case Model” and the answer is NONE of them. Yes, that is £125+ million invested without following treasury advice!

And when My London reports on social media about grand plans for Sutton High Street including a roof garden ( which no planning permission has been applied for), consider the response of a senior officer when asked what the plan related, for example, to the St Nicholas Centre investment after acquisition.

It was succinct and to the point “We have no plan….” – like so much of what we as residents have endured over the years, there is an ambitious plan, glossy marketing materials but an inability to manage the opportunity.

But focus on these “ambitious” plans is to FORGET what residents expect of their Council – they expect a Council to listen to the results of consultations and act upon those results, they want clean and safe streets, good education and healthcare. 

They would probably prefer their children to go to a new school rather than see them squashed into existing schools. Parents of SEN children would prefer their children to enjoy the 50+ hectares of Beddington Park than be squashed a school on 2 hectares next to a railway line a site declared at significant flood danger by the Council as far back as 2011.

Sutton Guardian – Thursday 25th April2019

And when your child is diagnosed as having special needs, do you want to fight for an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) because education services are on a profit target, or do you want your needs considered with empathy and understanding?

New Horizons for Future Generations?

Do you want your Council to agree, in partnership with three other boroughs, that your Borough accepts more waste than the rest combined meaning more HGV’s and have twin chimneys sending a toxic flume to poison our children?


They find multi-million pound investment with slapdash financials a poor return compared with damning reports from OFSTED and the CQC, Bingate and a record number of appearances in Private Eye’s “Rotten Boroughs”.

We hope that the election in May will see a great turnout – low turnouts suit the ruling Liberal Democrats and if you want change, please use your vote. 

But we know some people question politics and politicians.

Well, there are three of us in Beddington – Jillian Green, Nick Mattey and myself – who thought exactly the same and stood as Independents in 2018 punching well above our weight in Council and Committees and if you want to know what that involved or want to do the same in your ward, then contact us.  We are going again in May and would be glad to hear from you.

Our Sutton Independent Residents Group states “Residents First Always” and that isn’t a bad starting point for anyone seeking to properly serve as a Councillor.

Nick Mattey –  – 07860 673458

Jillian Green – – 07599 661 522

Tim Foster    – – 07771 847290

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