Slow Progress and Politics – the Frustrations of an Independent Councillor

  • Politics
  • Parking
  • Sheen Way
  • Beddington Farmlands
  • And more

We have all seen the performances in the Houses of Parliament, in recent months, the apparent gap between the perceptions of politicians and those of “ordinary people”.  Factional, internecine warfare amongst the politicians in Westminster has seen day to day issues that they should be involved in stalled – is it a strong Opposition holding an errant Government to account – no, they are all embroiled in presenting what they think may get them elected if and when the next election comes around.

And sadly, the same can be said of Local Government – when one attends a Full Council meeting, “debate” amounts to Opposition critique of the ruling Liberal Democrats who riposte with “Government Cuts”.  Other debates bring forward side issues like Single Use Plastics or pledges around Anti-Bullying week.

All the while, we have noises off from the Carshalton and Wallington MP, Tom Brake directing and interfering because he knows that his Parliamentary career could be damaged by unpopular local Lib Dem policies.

The Parking Strategy is a typical example – poorly conceived, appallingly communicated, it created a massive backlash from local residents.  A Council meeting at Carshalton College was attended by 100’s of residents and, confronted by real people, Standing Orders and procedural matters were shown for their irrelevance in the real world.

In a panic reaction, you had Mr Brake pontificating and canvassing, followed by Social Media Posts by Liberal Democrat Councillors claiming “victories” on behalf of their residents when some changes were made. 

It was their policy in the first place, did they not have any appreciation of local residents’ lifestyles or needs?

The process of a Traffic Management Order (TMO) is in progress with the well defined Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) of the initial questionnaires, replaced by a delightfully vague concept of Permitted Parking Area (PPA) – vague in definition, vague in signposting and of course vague in communication.

In Beddington North, we have yet to even experience Stage 1 of this comedy of errors that is the London Borough of Sutton’s Parking Strategy (Revised) but sadly it is likely that our residents may fall foul of the system before it reaches us.

Visiting a friend in a PPA, an electrician called to a job in a PPA or organising a caring visit to an elderly relative in a PPA?  All could get you a fine.

That TMO that would tell you all about the PPA’s – it will be on the LBS website, if you can find it.  They will make it legal by publishing it in the Sutton Guardian, if you get access to a copy or find the paper online. 

Is any real effort made on behalf of the community? No.

Oh – the single use plastics – you’ll be pleased to know that the coffee machines in the meeting rooms have been replaced by flasks.  And bullying – an even bigger farce.

Anti Bullying Week was 12th-16th November 2018 and this coincided with a Full Council where there was unanimity amongst the Councillors of every persuasion against bullying. For PR purposes, a pledge was produced on card – a bit like one of those winner’s cheques in competitions – and Councillors were invited to sign their name on the board.

The minutes of that Council meeting say that the pledge would show on Councillors’ individual profiles on the Council website.

I am not into political PR and declined to sign – the board, well that could be seen leaning up against a wall in the Members’ Area in the Civic Offices, apparently as an invitation to sign it.

Did the Council put the pledge on Councillor profiles – with their normal inimitable efficiency they did so on 10th June 2019 – 7 months later – to coincide with follow up training on the issue. 

At the end of that training session, I observed that the exclusion of anti bullying references on some Councillor’s profiles inferred their support of bullying and was counter intuitive as many of those Councillors who had the pledge on their profiles had not even attended the training.

Immediately I was surrounded by a hectoring collection of Lib Dem Councillors telling me I only had to sign the pledge.  History records all sorts of unpleasant organisations that sought similar compliance!

Anyway, I have since made my point vociferously to Committee Services and suggested that they remove the “Pledge” with its signatures from the debris of the Members’ Area to a  to a public display – maybe in the main entrance alongside the picture of all the Councillors so that residents can compare their actions, say on parking issues, with the words!

But we are keeping focussed on what our residents tell us – the new bus service – Go Sutton – isn’t a lot of good because it doesn’t Go Beddington! That is unlike the X26 that at least goes through Beddington, we are still lobbying to get it to stop there!

We continue to battle on behalf of Highview Residents and pupils of Carew Manor – if the London Borough of Sutton had done the job they were supposed to do and conducted a proper search for the BEST site for a SEN school there would be a Plan B.  There isn’t one, according to LBS, they will have to stay at Carew Manor if they cannot move to Sheen Way!

The Planning Application submitted has not yet even been validated and LBS have let down Orchard Hill Trust, the staff and pupils of Carew Manor, the Department of Education who have committed funds and of course (as always) the residents.

A good start on Beddington Farmlands – finally appointed as Chair of the Conservation and Access Committee, I have proposed inclusion of community members to the group and we have a road map to measure progress.  The support of Councillor Jillian Green on that committee is another bonus voice for the people of Beddington.

Beddington Farmlands Restoration Roadmap

Frustrations?   Still no sign of the TMO to ban lorries in Beddington Village although we now have a very pretty bit of signwriting on the wall outside the Village Hall to ensure that you know where you are!

Interesting how the Council can suspend the TMO process when it suits them – bet they won’t delay on the Parking!

Sadly the next meeting of the BNNF clashes with Full Council so you will miss our smiling faces but we will prepare proper reports to keep residents up to date.

Keep in touch – full contact details are on the Council website https://moderngov.sutton.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1

Bin it for Beddington

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