School Streets Consultations

The dust has barely settled from the controversy of LTN’s and School Streets implemented in past months and a recent Social Media posting about a Focus leaflet distributed in Carshalton Central brought wider attention to a live consultation on the Council website for  the school streets scheme for All Saints School in Rotherfield Road.

One questions the wisdom a graphical representation to show the Labour Party’s position when the same graph serves to contradict the usual “Liberal Democrats Winning Here” but then none of the content of these leaflets survives careful examination!

Apparently local residents have also received letters about the consultation.

However, those with school age children will know that school allocation is not always “round the corner” and they have to travel around the borough to get their kids to school. 

So I thought I would check out what other consultations are happening on school streets and the list on the Council website is extensive.  Log on to https://www.sutton.gov.uk/schoolconsultation and you will see a list that looks like this:

All Saints’ Carshalton Church of England Primary School (Rotherfield Road)

Bandon Hill Primary School and Sherwood Hill School (Beddington Gardens)

Carshalton Boys Sports College (Winchcombe Road)

Cheam Common Infants’ and Junior Academy (Kingsmead Avenue)

Cheam Fields Primary Academy (Stoughton Avenue)

Cheam Park Farm Junior Academy (Kingston Avenue)

St Elpheges Catholic Infants and Juniors (Roe Way)

Harris Junior Academy, Carshalton (Camden Road)

St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls & St Mary’s Catholic Juniors (Shorts Road)

Muschamp Primary (Muschamp Road)

Robin Hood Junior School (Thorncroft Road)

The concerning thing is that the consultation period is 15th March – 4th April.  They say that there will be a statutory consultation in the summer with a view to approved schemes going liove in Autumn 2021.

PLEASE if this affects you, make your voice heard, complete the consultation before 4th April

Bin it for Beddington

THOUGHTS OF INDEPENDENT COUNCILLOR JILLIAN GREEN MARCH 2021

Tim, Nick and I have been eager to send out a newsletter to let you know what we have been doing on your behalf but in light of the Covid restrictions we have adhered to the rules and have not delivered any leaflets. This is why we have used social media to keep in contact as much as we can.

Yes, I know, my constant cry at Council meetings is how do we engage with those who do not do social media, have computers etc but at this time it is about as much as we can do. We do rely on you, our residents, to keep us informed of any problems or concerns you are experiencing. However as restrictions will be lifted shortly please look out for our newsletter in the coming weeks.

There are several things I want to mention.

  • Community Food Hub I would like to pay tribute to everybody who helped out during lockdown, especially Katie Travers, her family and team for their hard work in establishing and manning the Community Food Hub. Well done to all of you and what you have achieved. As Katie said at the weekend this has now closed and I would therefore like to ask you as residents if you think we should establish a food bank in Beddington North Ward. If you do please respond to my facebook post in the comments section. Depending on the majority view I will then look into how to go about setting one up and the most important question – where?
  • Parking Consultation – we urge you all to look at the maps and put your thoughts to the Council, again I am afraid via the Sutton Council’s website or write to Parking Strategy, Highways and Transport, London Borough of Sutton, 24 Denmark, Road, Carshalton, Surrey, SM5 2JG. If you go on the Council’s website put in Parking Strategy and look at area 3 and respond where indicated at the bottom of the page.

I know in parts of the ward there are serious issues with the amount and length of proposed double yellow lines. These double yellow lines will obviously see the removal of a large number of parking spaces so please put in your fourpence, as the saying goes. I can confirm that I have heard from the Highways Officers that no-one can park on a double yellow line at any time, not even if it goes over the dropped kerb in front of their property. You will be ticketed. However if there is a single yellow line over a dropped kerb you can park over the dropped kerb in front of your property once it is outside the time restrictions. I can also confirm that residents of the property with a dropped kerb and no yellow lines can park over their own driveways.

The closing date for consultations is 18th March – please make Beddington North the busiest response page of the whole Borough!

  • Beddington Park Conservation Area Consultation. Again, this can be found on the Council’s website and, as I understand it from Officers, residents affected by this have received letters. The areas involved are Beddington Park, Carew Manor and Church Lane, please make sure you have your say. The consultation webpage can found at www.sutton.gov.uk/heritage or sutton.citizenspace.com. Views can also be sent to planningpolicy@sutton.gov.uk or in writing to Strategic Planning Environment, Housing and Regeneration 24 Denmark Road Carshalton SM5 4JG. Consultation ends on 25 March 2021.
  • Sustainable Transport Strategy: To quote “a strategy focused upon providing more opportunities for local residents to walk, cycle and use public transport as their preferred options for journeys, within and beyond the Borough”. The consultation webpage can be visited at www.sutton.gov.uk/drafsts. A questionnaire can be completed on Citizenspace or you can send your views to planningpolicy@sutton.gov.uk or write to Strategic Planning Environment, Housing and Regeneration, 24 Denmark Road, Carshalton SM5 4JG. Consultation ends on 25 March 2021
Manuel Abellan, Deputy Leader of Sutton Council !!

I sit on the Environment and Sustainable Transport Committee (previously known as Environment and Neighbourhood Committee). I am sorry that the word “neighbourhood” has been dropped as in my opinion neighbourhood and neighbourliness are such an important part of life. The recent meetings have been very difficult because of the lack of consultation on the implementation of low traffic neighbourhoods and safer school streets. These have now been removed until proper consultation can be undertaken with residents.  I suggested that a cross party group be formed to decide on the questions that should be included in the consultation.  This suggestion does not seem to have found favour with Cllr Abellan, the Chair of the E&ST Committee (why am I not surprised) but wouldn’t it be great if it did.

Finally, the month of May will be the third anniversary of Tim Foster, Nick Mattey and me being elected to serve the residents of Beddington North ward as their Independent Councillors. It has been an interesting three years, sitting on committees and listening to the political wrangling that goes on.

Why is it that Councillors cannot put aside party politics and all work together for the good of the Borough?

I know why because for some it is political ambition, for others a way of supplementing an income and for some, like us, it is a way of giving something back to the community they serve. So residents of Beddington North for the coming 14 months or so we will continue to fight your corner, and hope, with your support, to continue serving after May 2022.

Best wishes to you all Jillian

Councillor Jillian Green Highview Resident and Champion for Sheen Way

The Rights of Residents – Reality or Myth?

When I joined Jillian Green and Nick Mattey to fight in the Local Elections of May 2018, I stood because I had the impression that residents in my ward were being poorly served and had little say in what happened around them.

I saw examples in the “Stop the Incinerator” campaign, the clearance of the retired residents of Richmond Green from what were serviceable homes and the imposition of a Local Plan that among it pages had a proposal to build on the last remaining Open space on the Highview Estate.

What I have found is that the reality of local Government, certainly in the London Borough of Sutton, effectively disenfranchises the ordinary resident because at every level the Ruling Group imposes its will with a robotic acceptance by its elected Councillors of anything that is put in front of them.

In the past 3 years, the only time I saw any break ranks was when Extinction Rebellion prompted a vote on a Zero Carbon Sutton by 2030 – but their rebel tendencies were shown to be transparent when the Liberal Democrats put a motion forward for a Zero Carbon Sutton by 2045 which all Lib Dems present voted for.  To compound the infantile nature of the debate and process, a Councillor called the Chief Executive for clarification – which was it, 2030 or 2045 – and the answer came “BOTH!” Reflective of poor executive direction.

The “Rule Book” that we are supposed to play by is the Constitution – I had questioned elements of that document and when there was talk of reform, I volunteered my time to contribute.  I spent time with a Consultant brought in to make recommendations and early in 2020, I had a meeting with Lord Kerslake whose wisdom and experience was to be leant upon.  The result – so far, no change. 

Yet this Constitution is used to manage and manipulate the agenda of Council – at the end of November, the South London Waste Plan that runs until 2031 was due for debate – it went through undebated because Council “ran out of time”.  It is a plan that will see Sutton (and Beddington in particular) take 70%+ of the cumulative waste of the four Boroughs of Kingston, Merton, Croydon and Sutton.

More examples are there with the Parking Strategy, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, cycle lanes – if they get consulted on at all, it is through the Committee system and the shambolic LBS website.  Petitions with thousands of signatures are “noted” which is a euphemism for ignored.

But for all the protestations on Facebook pages and demands for change – the only agents for change are people who have had enough – residents like Jillian, Nick and myself from 2018.

Because there is one thing that the Liberal Democrats in Sutton are good at and that is getting their vote out – and leafletting.

Instinctively, at election times, we look for the familiar – Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat and others like Greens or whatever the party Nigel Farage is promoting.

Interestingly, the Beddington North ballot paper in 2018 had every party represented on it, so Independent can be a very valid choice. But tactical voting which I have seen advocated in some quarters is ineffective individually.  This is an area where “opposition” parties need to talk to each other.

National and local politicians have one overwhelming handicap – they truly believe that theirs is the right answer – for the most part, it isn’t and, most especially at a local level, we need to have a Council that is properly representative of the residents who live in the Borough.  That means balance and consideration of the legacy that whoever leads the Council into 2022 will need to deal with – consider what the Lib Dems will leave:

  • An accumulated debt of £100 million for “investments”.
  • A failed heating system, SDEN, which is operationally flawed and the capital investment of which cannot possibly be repaid.
  • A waste plan that sees over 1 million tonnes of waste that needs to get to Beddington via the Borough’s roads.
  • A top heavy (in terms of remuneration) senior management and overblown Councillor allowances
  • The London Cancer Hub whose sole investor to date have been LBS and GLA grants
  • A discredited and poorly functioning education service COGNUS, operating as a wholly owned company “independent” of the Council.
  • COGNUS is just one of a panoply of wholly owned companies running services on behalf of the Council, with the most labyrinthine organisation chart you will ever see
  • The perverse contradiction of the South London Waste Plan with the Incinerator and a commitment to a zero carbon Borough

So, start the conversation – representing your fellow residents is rewarding, it is bloody hard work, but if you put in the effort, the sense of achievement is profound.  Too often Local Government is the first step on the escalator into National politics – ambitious young Councillors confusing political ideals with practical realities and making poor decisions. Recent cycle lanes are an apt example. 

Back to balance, we need some practical pragmatic voices in Council – but it is not easy, change is uncomfortable but we need change in Sutton and you all have just over 12 months to set the template for a new Borough.

A senior officer of the Council recently remarked during a briefing that in his experience, Independent Councillors work harder because there is no support in place to lead them through the system.

If you think that standing as an Independent is a realistic ambition, then be reassured that there are three people in Beddington that can offer some guidance and support.

Bin it for Beddington

Thoughts from Councillor Jillian Green of Beddington North

Councillor Jillian Green Highview Resident and Champion for Sheen Way

Sutton is a great place to live work and raise a family…says the Leader of the Council, Ruth Dombey. I say, but don’t come to Sutton if you are elderly or disabled…..

Over the past couple of months I have been struck by the way residents have come together to try and make sense of the low traffic neighbourhoods and safer school streets programme that has been rolled out without any consultation.  In my opinion it is not good enough to say it is only for six months to see if it works.  What happened to democracy? 

I forgot, it doesn’t apply to the Liberal Democrats in Sutton because as usual they are right and everyone else is wrong.  Do you have to be a professional politician to avoid saying sorry we got it wrong?  

Some weeks ago a cycle lane went live in Foresters Drive, one of the most dangerous roads in Wallington.  Two pedestrian safety islands were removed to accommodate this. Red and white wands (as I like to call them) were put along the edge of the cycle lane.  

The cycle lane runs from Mollison Drive junction with Foresters Drive and ends just before the dangerous bend at the top of Plough Lane, Purley.  The “wands” force the traffic into the middle of the road.  I use this road twice a day, sometimes four times and the wands are mesmeric, they are ugly and make the cycle lane too narrow to take a bike.  

A cycle lane “sans wands” has now been put on the right side of Foresters as you come from Wallington thus narrowing the road even further.  It is now more dangerous than before and a small traffic measuring device has been installed across the cycle lane at the beginning near Mollison Drive.  Like many of those on facebook I totally agree that any data collected is useless without previous data to measure it by.  To date I have seen three cyclists use the lane and how they have never come off due to the wands lying around and the leaves covering up potholes I don’t know.

It is laughable, is it not, that the instigator of these hair brained schemes is one Councillor Manuel Abellan, ward councillor for Beddington South

It seems he has very little concern for his residents’ safety.  The poor allotment holders now have to park on the other side of the road and I saw two elderly chaps struggling to cross the road with large bags of compost.  Before the cycle lane was bordered by wands allotment holders could at least park outside the gate.  

You may ask why I say Sutton is no place for the elderly or disabled, let me explain.  Elderly residents on the Butter Hill estate feel trapped because they can no longer use the bridge which enabled them to get to St Helier Hospital and other places without going a long way round.  The local shops, so important to the elderly are at risk due to loss of business and ambulances called have to take the long way round, I just hope no-one dies while waiting.  Unbelievable in this day and age that this sort of discrimination is allowed to happen.

I understand there is another consultation regarding the LTNs and Safer School Streets (yes folks Sutton is the consultation capital of London) but what happens if you don’t have access to a computer or can’t use one and are badly affected by these restrictions.  The most common phrase used in meetings with Councillors and officers is “it’s on the website, it can be accessed there”.  It makes me so angry that so many in our Borough are being disenfranchised in this way and as you can imagine I don’t hesitate to say so.  When I ask what residents should do there is just a shrug of the shoulders.

The other thing exercising my little grey cells in the past few weeks and which has given me much food for thought is Civic Pride.  It seems to be deteriorating week on week, we have more fly tipping, litter dropping, lack of dog poo being picked up, rudeness, aggression, lack of courtesy and anger. 

Bin it for Beddington

I think the dreadful restrictions placed on everyone by Covid is certainly playing its part as well as the worry of having a job, putting enough food on the table, missing relatives and a host of other things.

Change can only come through the ballot box and I believe everyone who has the right should vote.  Low turnouts are what incumbent politicians rely on.  In my opinion it is not good for any one party to hold all the power and the only way to change this is to elect more Independent Councillors who have the interests of residents at the heart of what they do and do not support a political doctrine. 

Consultations and Petitions Opinion Forming or a Political PR stunt?

A note from Cllr Jayne McCoy, one of the Deputy Leaders of the Council about the Government’s Consultation on changes to Planning Law referred glowingly to 4,500 consultation comments on the Sutton Local Plan.

When you look at the London Borough of Sutton website, you will find consultations on anything from the South London Waste Plan to Parking Proposals and of course you have to consider the current TFL Consultation on bus route changes – add Cllr McCoy’s pleas to look at the Government consultation and you begin to see the trend.

The politicians and administrators can claim “consultation” on every issue and use it as a defence against public dissent and this abuse of what appears to be a democratic process goes hand in hand with Petitions.

When Prime Minister David Cameron promised that any petition with over 100,000 signatures would get parliamentary time, the inference inevitably that “something would be done – we’re listening”

Well the reality is rather different – and as for local petitions, the habit of our ruling group to “note” petitions on, for example, school streets is abhorrent and frankly reflective of the reality.

This Council has focussed all communication through the internet and through their website effectively marginalising the poor or the elderly who do not have everyday access. 

At a recent meeting, when the local Age UK representative  questioned the TFL Consultation on that subject, the TFL representative pointed out the prohibitive cost of paper driven consultation.

The perverse reality is that the 54 elected Councillors of the London Borough of Sutton were offered the loan of a Chromebook to assist in this era of remote meetings.  Although every one of them receives an allowance and should be wholly “connected” – 18 of the Councillors took up the offer.  That is one third thought they were inadequately served by their own equipment! 

What chance our residents especially the elderly and underpriveleged?

When Councillors of the ruling group will not listen, do not promote communication and take no notice of local residents, consultation and petitions are revealed for what they are, a political crutch to deflect criticism.

“DO WE GET THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT WE DESERVE?” View of an Independent Councillor Autumn 2020

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:

jillian.green@sutton.gov.uk, 07599661522

tim.foster@sutton.gov.uk,     07771847290

Nick.Mattey@sutton.gov.uk  07860673458

It’s Residents that Count, not Politics

The lovely thing about owning a dog is that you have to exercise it and you meet all sorts of people at all times of the day and night – never mind Covid-19 making people talk to one another, dog walkers have been doing it for years.  There is a lovely couple who live in our road and I see them most mornings and the other day, they asked me about a huge oak tree that was in a neighbour’s garden and what could they do.

I asked them if they had access to the internet because they could search “Tree Preservation Orders” and follow the instructions. They don’t have access to the internet and of course that made me think how isolated from local information and, importantly, local Government information that makes them.

Some areas still get a copy of the local Guardian – in Beddington North, we haven’t seen one in ages – of course you can get an e-edition unless of course you haven’t got a computer. 

So whether it is advancing years that cut you off from computers or financial hardship, this Council are just not communicating with volumes of residents. 

But what about the those of us in the London Borough of Sutton who have computers?

Democracy says that we have a say in our lives but when only lip service is paid to public consultation democracy becomes dictatorship – remember the introduction of the Parking Strategy or consultation on planning issues from the Incinerator to the proposed school at Sheen Way Playing Fields. 

The reality is that the media, politicians and Council officers are so wrapped in their own bubble that they misread public opinion because they don’t like the answers they are given when they do ask questions. They are also very happy to spend thousands of pounds hiding information, for example, trying to stop an elected Councillor from finding out the flaws in their financial planning of the SDEN heat network

In their latest brainwave on Safer, Active, Greener Streets, they didn’t even ask residents or affected businesses– no time for Public Consultation!

Around 80% of expenditure in the London Borough of Sutton is on Social Care – myself and my fellow Independents (along with the Conservative Councillors) were pilloried by the ruling Liberal Democrats after voting against adoption of the most recent budget.  They said we didn’t care about “the frail and elderly and building council homes”.

I spoke at that meeting and made clear that I was objecting to the Councillors voting themselves a pay rise as well as spending over £3 million to provide schooling for 192 children who would have been educated by the Greenshaw Trust if the Liberal Democrats had not canvassed for the refusal of Planning Permission for a new school at Rose Hill.

This is a profligate and poorly run administration – I am sure that anyone who has worked hard to secure a mortgage would question Council Houses like those on Richmond Green that cost in excess of £7 million on top of the land values.  That is not to argue the principle of social housing but rather how it is implemented – but this Council wanted to make the political point that it was building Council Housing. Never mind the 28 old peoples’ bungalows they demolished to make that point!

A Council that is spending £6+ million on transport for SEN children – just the transport – yet imposes ill thought out and ANPR controlled restrictions round other Borough Schools.

Today, I read a report about an old acquaintance of mine and his fight with a different, Labour run  Council – Stevenage.  The report was written by lawyers who represented Martin and his wife and some of the comments really struck a chord.

The case involved the Council applying for an injunction that was draconian in its inception and which they wanted to apply at their own discretion.  This paragraph will be familiar to those impacted by the current chaos on our roads:

“A petition of some 2000 names was presented to the Council which was promptly rejected, (see you in court), this was backed by eloquent and well argued social media. It was left to Martin and Monica to risk all to oppose the making of the order.”

The report went on to observe:

“Councils need to recognise that Parliament and the courts and not unelected officials are the arbiters of these rights and that the council is not responsible nor elected to decide what should be criminalised.”

When we are elected as Councillors, it is made clear that whatever our political colours we are bound to serve all our residents, not just those who agree with us.  At the same time, engagement with outside bodies, commercial entities or lobby groups should be open and beyond reproach.

The Ruling Group may have a majority in Council and an acquiescent Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer, but it should consult its residents, listen to its residents and act accordingly rather than act for short term revenue gains or political point scoring. 

Big change today – Manual Abellan’s Committee that has given you Bingate, the Parking Strategy and now Safer Active Greener Streets as well as School Streets has a name change – no longer Environment and Neighbourhood Committee, from now on, it will be known as the Environment and Sustainable Transport Committee.  I am sure that will make all the difference!

And many of you will be thinking – “What can I do about it?”- – well you can nail your colours to the mast of an opposition party, Conservative, Labour or other and hope they speak for you. 

?????????????????

But  speaking as someone who had seen enough of the Council riding roughshod over local residents and, hand on heart, not feeling that any political party stood for my values, I joined forces with Jillian Green and Nick Mattey in Beddington North ward and stood as an Independent.

We worked hard, got our message across and have worked bloody hard for the residents in our Ward ever since.  When we arrived, there was no support network that Councillors from other parties have but we have learnt a lot along the way.  

So start thinking now – support one of the Opposition parties or if you want to know what is involved standing as an Independent, get in touch with Nick, Jillian or myself – it is rewarding and frustrating in equal parts, but when you feel you have made a difference, it is a great feeling and makes the hard work worthwhile.

Let’s get democracy back in our lives and create some real change in this Borough.

Bin it for Beddington

It is the Residents of this Borough that really make it work.

Everywhere you turn nowadays, there are politicians telling you that they know best then demonstrating with their actions that they don’t.  In the current crisis, it is ordinary people who make the difference and so it has proved in the past couple of years in Sutton

On Thursday evening, the London Borough of Sutton Planning Committee “met” to consider an application to build a new school on Sheen Way Fields on the Highview Estate.

It was a meeting of these strange times with everybody conversing via computer screens and was streamed live, for public viewing, on Sutton Council’s You Tube channel.

The Department of Education (DfE) and their agencies had put in the application last June and in April this year, frustrated by progress, or rather lack of it, had bypassed the London Borough of Sutton and gone straight to a Public Enquiry with the Planning Inspectorate.

That meant that by June 3rd, the Sutton were required to revert to the Inspectorate with their position – hence the urgent need to put together a Planning Committee.

There are 183 objections to the application on the Planning Portal – residents recognising the need for the Carew Manor School to get new premises but knowing that the narrow roads of the Highview Estate, already congested because of the Chase being used as a rat run, could not support construction traffic or the large number of vehicle trips generated by a SEN school – in this case 25 minibuses and 59 cars each way each day!

Leaked beforeWard Councillors wereinformed

If they were concerned about the application, they were incensed when the news of the current situation was broken, not by Council information to locally elected Councillors but via an email to local supporters of the ruling Liberal Democrats.

As it turned out, they need not have worried because the outcome was a vote against the application by 7 votes to 3.  It is only round one, because we still have the enquiry but one hopes the final outcome will be that the London Borough of Sutton does what it claimed it had already done (but didn’t) and that is find a properly suitable site that is accessible and is future proofed in offering space to grow with the increasing need for more SEN provision.

Last night, two people spoke eloquently for the residents – Independent Councillor Jillian Green and Lizette, a long-term resident.  Backed up by others watching on You Tube and a cascade of Facebook comments and likes, these two local ladies delivered.

If it sounds familiar – look at the last couple of years and the changes that ordinary people are making in this Borough.  The Council decide to impose an unfair and ill-conceived Parking Strategy and what a shock they got!

And while Beddington North’s Independent Councillor Nick Mattey has been fighting  for the truth about SDEN pricing for ages, the strength of purpose and drive for change accelerated with New Mill Quarter residents, who are living with the reality, getting involved.

I believe that the broadcasting of last night’s Committee opened up some residents’ eyes about just how unremarkable some of those ruling their lives really are – but it won’t change unless more people get involved.

Here in Beddington North there are three ordinary residents who stuck their heads above the parapet and got involved – we are Independent Councillors, we are not politicians, we only care about one thing, doing our best for the people we serve – the ones who elected us.

If there is going to be a new normal and real change, it won’t come from the top, it will come from you – let’s get involved and change Sutton!

Is it soon time to stand up and be counted?

2018 seems a long time ago, but in May of that year the residents of the London Borough of Sutton last had a say in who runs the local services.  May 2022 will be your next opportunity and we would love to hear from people who really want to make a difference – not “lend their vote” but to give some of their time to serving their local communities

In Beddington North, we had seen local opinion trampled underfoot by the policies of the ruling Liberal Democrats – building development, Beddington Lane and the incinerator to name just three – and, in spite of comments that “Independents never win” from leading lights of the main Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, three of us – Jillian Green, Nick Mattey and myself stood as Independents.

We won! 

Nick was already a Councillor who had resigned from the Liberal Democrats a couple of years earlier over the incinerator and encouraged Jillian and I to stand – we were ready to put 100% into representing residents but could not have imagined the commitment and effort involved if you set out to do the job properly.  But it is very rewarding and we genuinely feel we make a difference.

Because we are unafraid to speak out on behalf of our residents – not for a party-political position but for our residents. We represent them on Committees, we fight their corner when local services fail and we try to keep them informed of everything that is coming their way.

Consider what has come your way in the past couple of years:

Parking: There are areas of the Borough with genuine parking issues – commuters, school runs, too few spaces – but it is not universal.  Rather than address genuine concerns, the London Borough of Sutton has followed its avaricious neighbours and gone for the revenue.  Poor consultation, appalling communication and disdain for residents’ concerns.

Planning: There was unanimous support amongst Liberal Democrat Councillors for the Local Plan, which included a proposal to build a new and much needed secondary school, to include a separate SEN unit on Rose Hill Playing Fields.  This is in the ward that is represented by the Leader of the Council, Ruth Dombey two other Liberal Democrats, Cllr Steve Penneck and Cllr Marlene Heron. 

All three published their objections in Focus publications and Cllr Penneck spoke against the school at the Liberal Democrat dominated Planning Committee.  Their main concern was the design – which they described as a 4-storey monolith. 

Lib Dems dislike this 4 storey monolith
Lib Dems like this 4 storey monolith +chimneys)

To the people of Beddington and Hackbridge who are cursed with a 4 storey high monolith ( + chimneys) every day, one wonders why the Liberal Democrat leadership has such an ambivalent attitude about the whole of the London Borough of Sutton compared with the ward that they represent.

As a postscript to that, the Department of Education was paying for the build and the Greenshaw Learning Trust were offering to provide the 2020 intake with places in Sutton at their cost whilst the build took place.  No planning permission, no school. Then Sutton Council would need to provide for those children!  Provision has been made by other schools across the Borough at a cost to the Council – that means Council Taxpayers – of around £1.3 million!!

Confusion of Climate Change: You may have received an invitation to contribute ideas for the London Borough of Sutton to become Carbon Neutral.  The first thing to wonder is “when by?” – you see when proposals came before Council in July last year, two dates were given – 2030 and 2045!  When the question was asked “which one counts?” – the answer from the Chief Executive and Mayor was “BOTH!”.

Confusion number two comes from the incinerator – contractually in place for the next 25 years, it will probably produce more CO2 than all the private cars in the Borough put together and to compound the issue, that Lib Dem dominated Planning Committee approved SUEZ, another waste company, to produce Incinerator fuel from waste – at the same time giving us 350 HGV’s into the site every day and 350 HGV’s out.

Oh, and the Mayor’s official Mercedes remains in use!

We are all going to keep up the fight in Beddington – although there are no guarantees in elections – but we will stand and we would be glad to lend our support and guidance to anyone who, like us, want stand as an Independent Candidate in the May 2022 Local Elections. 

LOCAL RESIDENTS REPRESENTING LOCAL RESIDENTS!

There is an allowance paid, but you won’t get rich – and you will have committees to attend, local residents to serve and less time for yourself and your family – but be assured, it is worth the effort.

If you want to know more or get involved email us or call us:

Nick Mattey  –  nickmattey@me.com           07860 673458

Jillian Green –  jilliann1953@gmail.com       07599 661522

Tim Foster    –  timfoster53@gmail.com         07771 847290

www.sutton-independent-residents.london

And about time……

Dear Residents

Councillor Jillian Green Highview Resident and Champion for Sheen Way

I have just realised it is about time I wrote another piece about life as an Independent Councillor in Beddington North Ward.

If anyone was at the latest Council meeting on Monday 20 January, I can only say in my humble opinion children of 6 would have behaved better.  It was like a bear pit, shouting at each other, politicising every discussion.  I really did not go into this to be dragged down by the political rantings of Councillors on both sides of the “chamber”.  Surely the people of the London Borough of Sutton deserve better in good rational debate with an ability to work together.   

Now I have got that off my chest I can report that I am working with the Sutton Commissioning Group as I really would like to set up a health and wellbeing group.  Wallington have one and it is highly successful.  I am investigating and further details will follow.  

If you are a member of the Beddington Village Neighbourhood FB group I have put a short survey on there to help with my future projects. 

One thing I would like to see is the establishment of residents’ groups for the different areas in the ward.  If that were possible we could appoint street representatives who would deal with matters in their street by contacting Councillors, deliver leaflets but more importantly the documentation for consultation. 

No more receiving these things in amongst the gas bills as has been the case for the St Helier consultation.  For consultations to be meaningful all residents should have the opportunity to engage with the process and, as you know, my pet hate is “well it can be done on the Council’s website”.  Not everyone has a computer and not everyone knows how to use one if they do…. 

If we can establish a few residents’ or community groups there would be much we could do to support neighbours and friends with any difficulties. I am looking into organising a Christmas event for the switch on of lights and if anyone would like to help with this please ring me on 07599 661522.

Now onto the Parking Strategy – Councillor Foster and I visited the Council offices last week and at first glance it seems little will change in Beddington North except for the application of double yellow lines at strategic spots.  Whether this will remain so is anybody’s guess but a second consultation on the proposals will begin before Easter and will last six weeks. 

Speaking of the second consultation, I hope the response will be better than the first one.  The response rates were so disappointing – if you don’t say you can’t complain….  We will be engaging with residents for their views so again, watch this space.

What angers me about this so-called Parking Strategy is that a very senior official at the Council told me when I said “no-one should pay for parking and instead of following other Councils we should be leading from the front”.  The response was “well we haven’t any money” so there you have it from the horse’s mouth.  The Parking Strategy is to make money.  It strikes me that everyone complains about the loss of high streets and small shops but not being able to park is going to result in even more independent shops going out of business.  

There is to be a meeting later this week to discuss various options for improvement in the Plough Lane area and we will update on this as soon as we can.

Street cleaning is another area that does not seem to be happening very much in our ward.  I have not seen a street cleaner for months and  I have regular correspondence with the officer concerned who says “the data says we are doing well”. 

I beg to differ data is only as good as the person inputting it.  Our eyes on the ground tell us a very different story.  If you get your street cleaned in Beddington North every fortnight do let me know.  jillian.green@sutton.gov.uk or 07588 661522.

I also should inform residents that at the last Environment and Neighbourhood Committee a strategy was passed by the Committee on Parks and Open Spaces.  There will now be a charge on charities and voluntary groups to use the parks for events.  These groups may be eligible for a neighbourhood grant to stage these events. 

I asked for this to be removed from the strategy but to no avail.  I even suggested that as it was around Christmas time did the Council want to be known as Scrooge – obviously what with this and the parking strategy they do.

If I have read the policy correctly Friends of Parks will be exempt from these charges.  So, it doesn’t seem to matter that a voluntary organisation who helps clean up a park twice a year still has to become involved in seeking a grant to cover the cost of being charged for the park for a charity event – absolute madness in my opinion especially as the majority of money stays within the Borough helping charities who receive little or no help from the Council. 

The answer is always the same “we have no money” but they can find it when they want to. Like when senior Liberal Democrats object to the building of a school at Rosehill and, as a result an unbudgeted £1.2 million is needed for school places in 2020……and probably more for 2021!

Tim, Nick and I will keep battling away on your behalf and keep you informed of any developments which will affect you. 

And don’t forget, Beddington North Neighbourhood Forum is on Monday 27th at Cricket for Change on Plough Lane 7.00 – 8.30 pm

Happy New Year to everyone.

Jillian