“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

Happy Christmas and a Busy New Year

Well whatever your thoughts about the General Election – it’s over, we have a Government with a majority that will at least be able to do what is promises rather than being stymied by Westminster opposition. Time now to concentrate on local issues and, for Beddington North, that means some urgent and far reaching issues!

South London Waste Plan – Those who attended the recent meeting of the Beddington North Neighbourhood Forum will have heard a presentation about this plan.  We feel the plan, in its present form, is a disaster for Beddington and most especially Beddington Lane.

The plan allows for 647,429 tonnes of domestic, commercial and industrial waste to come to Beddington Industrial area – to give that number perspective, the total amount being handled by the balance of Sutton and the other three Boroughs in the South London Waste Partnership (Merton, Croydon and Kingston) is 298,916 tonnes.  Yes, under this fair process, Beddington sees over twice as much as the rest put together!

Why? Essentially, planning permission was granted to SUEZ on the old County Skips site on the basis that an inspection by Planning Enforcement in 2014 deemed that a stretch of tarmac and kerbstones being laid meant that planning for waste management was “extant” and the site could continue development as a waste site. 

So in spite of ongoing issues with the London Borough of Croydon about excessive HGV traffic, the promise of an HGV ban in Beddington Village and the London Borough of Sutton stating as long ago as 2009 that HGV traffic in Beddington lane was an environmental hazard – they are happy with 700 additional  HGV vehicle movements a day. We are NOT!!

You have until 22nd December to express your views – https://sutton.citizenspace.com/environment/south-london-waste-plan/

Controlled Parking – We all had the opportunity to consult on this back in October and I hope that many of you did – your local Councillors, Jillian, Nick and I are due to meet up with the Council on 15th January for a briefing on what they propose for Beddington North – watch this space!

The Proposed School on Sheen Way – We still have no indication of a date for a Planning meeting. Everybody knows that the site is inappropriate and we only wish that the London Borough of Sutton had conducted a proper search for a site for a SEN school rather than fudging the issue – maybe they will yet.  As soon as we know the timetable, we will broadcast it and look forward to your support on behalf of the children who really do deserve better!

Tharp Road and Other Road Improvements – Aside from some signage issues and concerns from residents in Queenswood Avenue whose volume of “rat runners” appears to have increased, the Tharp Road one way system appears to be a success. Cllr Green has been working closely with Highways to iron out the detail, well done her!  We told you about other ideas that Highways have about the junction of Plough Lane / The Chase and the crossing at Collyer/Queenswood – well the measuring appears to be over so we wait for their specific ideas.

So you see, there is a lot of work to be done – Beddington Farmlands is progressing under the newly energised Conservation and Access Management Committee and we three Independent Councillors are continuing to put a shift in for residents on all local and Borough issues. 

Please get involved when you can – we now have some dates in 2020 for the Beddington North Neighbourhood Forum (BNNF) so make a note in your diaries:

27th January           23rd March                           11th May      

27th July                    21st September                   23rd November

Happy Christmas to you all and looking forward to a Prosperous New Year for us all!

POLITICS OR DIRTY TRICKS?

Councillor Jillian Green Highview Resident and Champion for Sheen Way

As most of you know I rarely get political although as a close friend told me just by being a Councillor you have got yourself involved in the political arena.  My politics are doing all the good I can for those I represent and the wider community. It is no coincidence that residents from other wards have often contacted me asking for help and I quote “my Councillor does not respond to any request for help”.  I am not perfect but I hope I am doing a good job. 

However having thought long and hard about a situation that has arisen I really feel I must take a step into the political world.  To say I am angry is an understatement and if you read the front page of the Focus leaflet as detailed below you will know why.

This is the second time the Liberal Democrats have said I have done something I have not.  The first time was a full Council meeting when a statement was made by Councillor Mo Saqib that I had been canvassing for Neil Garratt when he was standing in the by-election in Belmont – categorically not true.  The second time is the libellous statement by Tom Brake that I have been working with Croydon Councillors – again not true. 

Residents know that I have consistently spoken out against the proposal to build a new SEND school on the Sheen Way Playing Field.  My objections are well documented and include an unacceptable increase in noise and air pollution which are two things the Liberal Democrats are keen to reduce.

In relation to the libellous statement Councillor Foster requested Mr Brake to retract it and publish an apology. Thus far there has been no response but we are not going to let the matter rest.

With the election looming Mr Brake will rely on a low turnout to retain his seat so come on folks get out there and vote.

All I want for Christmas is………..

Well if you thought you were bored with politicians talking Brexit, you will hardly be inspired by the thought of those same people knocking on your door and filling your TV screens, asking for your support at the ballot box on December 12th.

And therein lies a very great danger – if anything, there has never been a more important time to make sure that you cast your vote and the reality is that there are many amongst the political classes who really don’t want you to.

I saw a comment on social media recently about our local Liberal Democrats and their “victory” in a Council By-Election in Wallington North.  The comments questioned on the suitability of the Liberal Democrat candidate, the imposition of the Parking Strategy on the area, the Incinerator and other failings of the incumbent administration – yet the Liberal Democrats won.

They won because they got their supporters (representing 12.5% of the total ward electorate) to the ballot box – congratulations to them for their organisation.  That small band of supporters delivered on a low turnout and it is what “professional” politicians have increasingly relied upon.

Look what happened to that political establishment when they asked for a simple binary choice in the 2016 Referendum 70+% of the electorate turned out to vote and chaos ensued – it is called the silent majority and what a noise they made.

We need you out there again on December 12th – locally, we know that the Liberal Democrat machine will be at work supporting their 55th local Councillor, Tom Brake. 

I say that because during the local elections in May 2018, I spent a considerable time convincing a voter that Mr Brake was not a Councillor but an MP. 

But should an MP be out canvassing with the Chair of the Council’s Environment and Neighbourhood Committee (who runs his Parliamentary office) on the Council Parking strategy when half the Borough is represented Paul Scully MP, a Conservative?

And if the Labour Group bring out the Haringey Councillor, Emine Ibrahim again, it is a real North London stand-off with Tom Brake having started his political activity as a Councillor for the London Borough of Hackney! 

So we are pleased that the Conservatives have gone local with Elliott Colburn – no, not old Etonian but an alumnus of Carshalton Boys who works for the NHS and who perhaps knows more about St Helier than merely as a backdrop for photo opportunities.

Good Luck to them all.

But who ever you like or support, on Friday 13th December, you must be able to look yourself in the mirror and say “At least I did my bit for democracy”.

PLEASE USE YOUR VOTE

Bin it for Beddington

Ambitious for Sutton? But not for Beddington!

At last night’s Housing Economy and Business Committee, a draft of the South London Waste Plan was presented with the idea of taking it forward to “consultation”.

The supporting document’s summary for the committee starts “ As part of the ambitious for Sutton vision to make the borough a great place to live and work…..”

When you read on, there is the exciting news that no new waste sites are planned and it then goes on to summarise the totals by borough of Croydon, Kingston Merton and Sutton who make up the South London Waste Partnership separated into Household/C & I (Commercial & Industrial) and C&D ( Construction and Demolition).

It makes for an interesting summary, especially if you bring in a split of Sutton / Beddington North.  Measured in tonnes

Borough                                             Household/C&I                 C&D

Croydon                                                      32,883                        48,474

Kingston                                                      35,642                            0

Merton                                                       213,179                   150,183

Sutton (excl Beddington)                        17,212                       2,728                                                           

Beddington North                                   647,429                  40,297

So there you have it, their numbers not mine – Beddington North a waste receptacle taking more waste than the four boroughs put together.

To the eco-protesters worried about the progress on Beddington Farmlands earlier in the evening – what chance have we got for an ecological nirvana when we are dismissed so readily by this travesty of a waste plan.

Included in the numbers is the new SUEZ plant so readily given planning permission in spite of a flawed travel plan that the London Borough of Croydon are still in dispute with and promoted because of “extant planning permission”.  In spite of the site not being occupied since 2011, in 2014, inspectors for the Planning Department decided that the presence of incomplete kerbstone fitment and tarmac on the site deemed construction had started and site allocation for waste was secure.  That is planned for 305,000 tonnes of waste.

Ambitious for Sutton?

As long as the ruling group can ignore Beddington North. And they are starting at an Emergency Full Council meeting on Monday when they will “debate” proposals for changes to Ward Boundaries.

Not wanting their image tainted by waste, Beddington South, with 3 Liberal Democrat Councillors, is planned to be renamed Wallington East.

Beddington North – well that becomes just plain Beddington, waste capital of the four boroughs.

We will keep fighting!!

Bin it for Beddington

Yes But No But Yes…..But

Apologies to “Little Britain” but I was looking for some way of putting into words the double standards of local politics – never mind the shenanigans at Westminster. I have been quiet for a while – I had a delightful 10 days at the end of August in Vancouver for a pal’s daughter getting married but came straight back into things on the home front with a BANG.

Within 24 hours of landing, I was at a residents’ meeting about the proposed development of Sheen Way Playing Fields.  An impressive turnout and an enthusiastic attitude driven principally by residents mystified that anyone could think that putting 240+ SEN children at the end of a cul de sac and next to a railway – no access to public transport and “protected” from the railway by closed, tinted, non-opening glass and artificial ventilation!

Barely a trace of nimbyism – just oceans of common sense and passionate advocacy for the children lead by Councillor Jillian Green.

What a contrast on Tuesday night when there was a Planning Committee meeting about a proposed school at Rose Hill.  Long opposed by local Liberal Democrat Councillors Dombey (yes, the Leader of the Council), Penneck and Herron.

Just to put the matter into context – they had objected to the site before and the Council had been authorised to spend a fortune acquiring Sutton Hospital land as part of Councillor Dombey’s favourite vanity project, the London Cancer Hub and land – deemed inadequate by an expert report – was set aside for a school.  Some people, perhaps unfairly, have claimed this was to protect her and her colleagues’ electoral prospects.

Nevertheless, Rose Hill was allocated for development as a secondary school and adjacent Special Needs Annex within the Local Plan – yes, that plan that was voted in with Liberal Democrat unanimity in February 2018.

On Tuesday evening, in front of a partisan public audience, a proposal for the school to be built and funded by the Department of Education (DfE) was rejected on design and other “planning” grounds.

The tone was very different to the Sheen Way Residents meeting – Cllr Steve Penneck spoke of concerns about Parking, the Traffic Plan and Traffic Congestion but of course, the major concern was design.  I pointed out in questioning that irrespective of design, his three other concerns prevailed so his principle concern could not be design!

There was only one Liberal Democrat Member, Cllr Andrew who articulated any real concern over the fact that next year’s intake of 200 – 300 Secondary School Children would be without a guaranteed place – but when it came to the vote, design was the key.

So a Liberal Democrat Council allocates a site for a much needed secondary school, imposes parking constraints on residents and then uses parking as a reason to refuse – makes no attempt to improve infrastructure or public transport and uses traffic congestion as a reason to refuse – closes down cultural facilities in the Borough yet uses architectural aesthetics as a reason to refuse.  Refuse not just Planning Permission but this Borough’s children’s educational opportunities – very sad.

In other news, the same Planning Committee had, 6 days earlier, via the voting of the Liberal Democrat majority on the Committee – one abstention and yes, it was the thoughtful Cllr Andrew again – agreed the building of another waste transfer facility on Beddington Lane.  I asked the representative of SUEZ, the waste company involved when their last fire was at the Merton Plant that they are vacating –May was the answer. 

One vehicle movement every 3 minutes – Beddington Lane will be a car / lorry park

Irrespective of the fact that it is only a matter of weeks since a fire at the Viridor plant blew toxic fumes all over Beddington and Croydon and the fact that the fire investigation remains incomplete.  Irrespective of the fact that there are objections from our neighbours in Croydon over the routing of HGV’s and a suspension of an HGV ban in Beddington Village it all passed the critical litmus test for Liberal Democrat approval – “It’s Beddington – they’ve even got Croydon postcodes, who cares?”

In the South London Waste Plan – introduced in 2012 (yes it is that out of date) – reference is made to impacts of this site on the local school which was Beddington Primary 1.06km from the site. Since then, they have built Hackbridge Primary 1.2 km from the site but they took no notice of the approval to build an incinerator less than 1 km away in the Air Quality Report for that school, so another major fire risk nearby did not even warrant a mention in the SUEZ proposals.

On other matters, by now you will have all received the letter about Consultation on the Parking Strategy.  Please respond and if you know a neighbour who perhaps is not au fait with computers please help them – a Councillor from the other side of the Borough received a note from the Council Officers that indicated an absolute minimum of effort is being put in to facilitate paper copies and we need to make sure everyone gets the opportunity to have their say.

Beddington Farmlands Restoration Roadmap

Finally, some progress – as Chair of the Conservation and Access Management Committee for Beddington Farmlands, I have managed to get two “proper” community representatives on board – from Hackbridge, Stephen Debourde, and from Beddington, Tom Sweeney.  The scientists have done a cracking job on the ecology so our focus is on public access and we will ensure that local interests have a voice and an exemplary restoration job is done.

If you have any other concerns about Beddington North be sure to email us:

Jillian.green@sutton.gov.uk;

 Nick.mattey@sutton.gov.uk;

Tim.foster@sutton.gov.uk.

Bin it for Beddington