Views of an Independent Councillor Jillian Green
I can’t believe it has been 4 years since I was entrusted, along with my fellow Independent Councillors, Tim Foster and Nick Mattey, by the residents of Beddington North Ward to be their elected representatives on the Council.
It has been a real privilege to serve the residents, not just of Beddington North but Borough wide, who, in accordance with our mantra, we have always put first. We have listened to problems, taken action to try and get resolutions, spoken up against situations that were unjust and held the Council to account.
What have I learnt?
Well it has been an eye opener that is for sure. Full Council meetings have seen proper debate stifled, rarely did a Liberal Democrat Councillor vote against any resolutions or motions that were put before Council by their group but by observing their body language it showed on many occasions the “sheep” were most uncomfortable in voting “yes”, or, “no” if it was an opposition motion.
I have always voted on resolutions or motions as I felt fit and being an Independent meant I did not have to play party politics. Those of you who have listened to Council meetings will know my stock sentence has been “Why can’t we work together for the good of the Borough?” The Liberal Democrats always adopt an attitude of “We know best” and do not really like working cooperatively with other groups – “Our way or no way” is their mantra.
It was a huge disappointment that the building of a SEND school on the old Sheen Way Playing Field is going ahead. Now don’t get me wrong, not one person on the estate is against a new school for the SEND children, but the small playing field at the end of a cul de sac with only one way in and out is certainly the wrong place.
Despite a fantastic performance by Tim Foster as a Rule 6 participant at the Planning Enquiry, the Planning Inspector recommended it go ahead and the then Minister of State, Robert Jenrick, agreed. I have written numerous emails and letters to Ministers for Communities and Education pointing out why the siting of this school is so bad for the SEND pupils.
To move them from beautiful Beddington Park to a small plot surrounded by railway, houses and industrial units will do very little to enhance their education or wellbeing. They will have to get up earlier to cope with the increases in traffic jams. Those of you who know the Croydon Road and Plough Lane can attest to the problems faced.
Tim and I battle on, and will continue to do so if re-relected, making sure the residents of the High View Estate are treated fairly and the conditions put in place by the Planning Inspector are adhered to.
One question I ask myself repeatedly was the inclusion of Sheen Way in the Local Plan fair – answer no. No consultation took place with the residents of High View Estate, in my opinion is was just a case of let’s stick a pin in and that will do. If the school does get built the residents can expect another 300 traffic movements a day so not only are we dealing with air pollution from the incinerator and the current school traffic but more added by the mini buses and cars from the school travel plan.
The question frequently asked is what will the Council do with Carew Manor? With the experience of the sale of the Lodge in Beddington Park for a song, one cannot but feel that this glorious local asset is not safe if the current administration retains power after May’s election.
Let us not forget about that dark shadow over Beddington, the incinerator! Recent events have shown that the current Administration has very little control over those private companies they get into bed with. Now the landfill has been sold by Viridor and not only were the Council unaware until the last minute of this transaction they have no idea how this is going to impact on the future of the farmlands and surrounding areas.
One thing that has struck me as I continue working for residents is the fact that not only do ruling parties like low turnouts at elections, so do the Council Officers as this means the current administration is likely to get re-elected and their work just continues as before.
If you are reading this please vote, it is vital that residents have their say at the ballot box and a low turnout will pretty much leave things as they are. In addition to Tim, Nick and me there are more Independent candidates standing in the Borough, all with the same philosophy as us.
This is not about national party politics but about electing Councillors who truly care about the Borough and who want to see it flourish and be a place we can all be proud of. Does the London Borough of Sutton really deserve another four years of the Liberal Democrats?
A party who have gone ahead breaking their own policies, for example, a tower block of flats in Sutton High Street of 20 storeys, going against their Local Plan. We are losing green spaces, despite saying they want more; we have had the parking debacle, the low traffic neighbourhoods and school streets (which just throws more traffic onto other roads causing increases in air pollution), the partnership with other Boroughs for waste which is brought into Beddington to be incinerated causing increase in air pollution for residents and the children attending nearby schools.
Then there is bingate, still ongoing, lack of street cleaning and grass cutting of verges done as the schedule says. It doesn’t matter if it’s pouring with rain and the grass gets torn out. The cuttings are then blown into the road and down the drains. Doesn’t make sense does it? I have to say common sense and this Administraton does not go hand in hand.
We have improved communication in the ward, we have supported the Beddington North Neighbourhood Forum, 500+ pieces of “case work” helping individual residents on anything from planning, to housing and schools – we hope we have done enough for you to vote for us again on May 5th.
There is still so much to do, challenging what is wrong and ensuring that residents of Beddington continue having a voice that will represent their interests and fight for them. I am more focused than ever on what needs to be done and if change was needed it is now.
Please vote for the Independents.