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Your Vote is Important Tomorrow

Cllr Tim Foster Sutton Independent Residents

Six weeks of media coverage, six weeks of politicians seeking attention and it will all boil down to whether you vote tomorrow or not.

The first thing to remember is that modern politicians love a low turnout – they don’t have to work so hard and it means that a pot of money or influence from a trades union, a fat cat millionaire or a special interest group can make the difference between winning and losing.

High turnouts may not give the decision you want, but is it proper democracy – look at the bloody nose that a high turnout in France gave Monsieur Macron and the ensuing panic in the political classes. Let’s shake up the establishment and get back what we have lost.

Sutton Independents’ great campaigner, Cllr Nick Mattey has already been expressing local concerns about the Liberal Democrat candidate selection. Like many of the main political parties, whether a MP is resident in their constituency and truly committed to their local area seems an irrelevance.

In Carshalton and Wallington, we have one genuine local candidate, born, bred and educated in the Borough – Elliot Colburn – but he’s attacked for being Conservative!

Better Labour’s Hersh Thaker? With an election record of 6th place and failure to get elected as even a Councillor on Leicester City Council – what was wrong with someone like committed local Labour Councillor Dave Tchil from Hackbridge – at least he truly understands local issues.

And let’s just look at Elliot’s Liberal Democrat opponent – “this is my home” his latest leaflet states yet in 2019 Ladywell Live in the Lewisham Deptford area had this quote from him

Bobby says: “I’m honoured to be selected to stand in Lewisham Deptford once again. …..Lewisham residents demand better on the economy, health, crime and education. The Liberal Democrats are the party ready to deliver.”

Local? Really?

If the polls are to be believed, then Labour are a shoe in to be the next Government – those of us around to see Neil Kinnock’s triumphalism fall flat against a very grey John Major know there is no guarantee. But if you accept that the next Government is not likely to see Rishi Sunak or Sir Ed Davey in Downing Street, think about your LOCAL area.

We need a pair of MP’s who will hold the local authority to account, we need to buck the trend and elect genuinely local people to represent us in Westminster.

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END OF SUMMER THOUGHTS

A very personal refection from Councillor Jillian Green

Cllr Jillian Green

As I sit looking across the garden I decided to look back over the last year.  Re-elected by the wonderful residents of Beddington ward in May 2022 I was optimistic that the next four years would be less politics and more working together for the good of the people of Sutton.

How wrong can one be!!  For Councillor David Bartolucci, Chair of Housing, Economics and Business Committee, to say Tim Foster didn’t care about residents of Sutton, and by inference neither did Nick or I, was the ultimate insult and no apology was given despite the Mayor asking him to modify his language.  Still as my old dad used to say “when they start throwing insults you know they have lost the argument”.  Our Beddington residents know how hard we work on their behalf and will continue to do so for the next three and a half years.  We may not have the firepower of the ruling party but by heck we do hold our own in challenging decisions and asking the right questions.

One of the decisions we challenged on was the building of the new Carew Academy on the old Sheen Way playing fields.  We lost this one and on 9 May the building of the new school began. 

Green Space to a Building Site

The carpet of buttercups, daisies and clover has gone as have the butterflies, bees, bats, foxes and birds (a whole colony of goldfinches once so prolific seems to have dwindled).  The line of hedgerows that provided homes for the wildlife have been dug up and tossed aside and residents can no longer pick the blackberries which was an annual event for some.  The Sheen Way Strollers who met on Wednesdays in the summer for a chat and amble cannot continue as the open space left is no bigger than a medium sized garden.  It is so sad when one considers the Liberal Democrats boast about their green credentials!! 

No green space is safe under the ruling party or indeed any party in my opinion.  There seems to be huge encouragement to use fields for solar panels and possibly more onshore wind farms.  Can anyone tell me how we are going to grow our own food if farmland is decommissioned for green energy?  Are we going to import cheap food which travels around the world increasing the UK’s carbon footprint thus negating the green energy.  

Expanded ULEZ Zone

On 29 August the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, implemented the much hated ULEZ scheme.  I find it hard to contain my anger that so many who have non-compliant cars and are still struggling to pay off debts incurred during covid are going to have to pay £12.50 a day just to do their jobs to earn money to enable them to feed their families and pay the ever increasing bills. 

As a Councillor I have access to information about helplines for struggling families but ULEZ is not helping and I cannot understand why the major political parties are just letting Mr Khan get away with destroying people’s lives. 

Help in ToughTimes

Again another politician resorting to insults by calling people racists, nazis and covid deniers.  I have grave concerns that the suicide rate may rise because people are in such despair.  If cleaner air is what the Mayor aspires to, why were the cameras erected near hospitals where people suffering lung problems go to be treated.  I hear today that there is a possibility that cancer patients will get refunds.  It is my considered view that these cameras should not have been put up in those positions in the first place, nor indeed anywhere.

copyright GB News

Also why just cancer patients getting refunds, why not all patients, whether they have physical or mental problems?  What about those attending GP appointments?  What about the night shift workers having to pay twice – once on the way in and once on the way home?

It beggars belief that this is acceptable to all politicians whatever their party colours.  It certainly is not acceptable to me but then I’m not a politician with a big “P”.  I’m just someone who cares about people and will do anything I can to assist them with their problems.  What will happen when businesses go bust because they cannot afford ULEZ, LEZ and the congestion charge?  Where will Mr Khan and local authorities get business rates from when shops stand empty.  How will this impact what seems to be a nation dream of 15 minute cities – George Orwell was right “big brother is watching”?  Are we to be fined for “stepping outside our zone”?  I wish the Government and the opposition (of all parties) would come clean and tell us what they mean by this and what the rationale is behind it.  

I turn now to a favourite topic of mine “democracy”.  Not something the Liberal Democrats in Sutton know a lot about.  You will all recall that when Labour won 3 seats last year, we the 3 Independents for Beddington, were told we had to share seats on the strategic committees with them.  How can it be that a party with a majority of 3 have the same amount of seats on committees they had before the election?  I’ll tell you why – because they interpret the constitution as it suits them. 

With a general election looming next year I would like to suggest that the politicians with a big “P” start listening to the majority of the population.  They will no longer stay silent and will speak out loud and long about the way they feel about being taxed to the hilt, not being able to recover their way of life because of the cost of living crisis, not being able to afford a compliant car because let’s face it two grand goes nowhere.

I would finish this “rant” by pleading with you all to make sure you are registered to vote next year, look into the ID requirement and make your voices count. I realise it is difficult to know who to vote for but wait and see who makes the candidate list and look into their records before deciding.   Are they really local or bussed in to appear local – are they telling you what you want to hear or what they are really going to do – make your vote count.

I hope you have all enjoyed your summer whether you stayed at home, went out for days or holidayed in the UK or abroad.  Look out for a new Sutton Independent leaflet coming in the autumn to Beddington.

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Who Runs Your Council?

It’s the Lib Demcrats isn’t it? They got the most seats, don’t they run it?  Yes they got the most seats in the May 2022 election but a very narrow majority.

That was potentially bad news for the officers – the Directors of Sutton Council and their myriad of wholly owned companies. Running budgets and borrowing money to fund projects depends on certainties and tiny majorities don’t do that.

Legal guidelines are clear, the proportion of seats on committees must reflect the proportion of seats on the Council – however, officers proposed to Council that even though the Liberal Democrats had just 52.725% of the Council seats, they would be allocated 60.1% of the Committee seats giving them a two-seat majority on every Committee.

Why did they want that – well the Committee system allows substitutes – so even if a member is sick, on holiday or has another reason for absence, the Liberal Democrats always have their majority.

At Council, there are no substitutes so there is always a risk – illness or even a train strike could cause absences and the risk of losing a vote.

That is why you will see a total absence of meaningful Council business at Full Council – everything is decided at Committee! The only way to bring important matters to Council is by requisition of Committee decisions, but the officers dismissed clear guidance of the Constitution and blocked a recent important requisition.

There was a petition raised by concerned residents about this and we are not sure it got the traction it deserved – anyone impacted by lousy decisions – SEN parents, SDEN customers, Environment issues, Housing issues ULEZ – you should sign the petition because this needs to change!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf3EfyC90FHzZTbgKWPqCW0flDWRxHmPZqP4amEq7Edhc4ZTA/viewform

This Council does not want to engage or listen.

SDEN, the Council’s heating system had yet another outage recently – this is the system that was part of the rationale to grant planning for the incinerator.  The system is not even connected to Viridor and last year they sold their landfill interests, including Beddington Farmlands to another company – so the landfill gas engines that currently power SDEN are not even owned by Viridor!

An independent report by CIPFRA talked of optimism bias at the inception of SDEN and the finances came in for heavy criticism – was anyone held to blame – what do you think? 

Yet officers are still trying to sell the concept of SDEN to a prospective developer close to New Mill Quarter.

Let’s try an anagram of SDEN and look at another Sutton Council claim – “Ambitious for SEND” – that is the provision of special needs education managed by another of Sutton’s wholly owned companies COGNUS.  

Are parents wrong when they say that they are treated badly when they apply for an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) for their child – the full year statistics for EHCP Tribunals for 2021 tell the story:

London Borough SEND Tribunal Rate 2021

Visit or dial into Council  on 6th March when the Budget is presented and see just how much money is being spent on SEND and ask why we are not doing better. 

At the same time watch the increase in Councillor allowances, the ballooning debt and the increase in your Council Tax and wonder where all that money goes.

And if you think the increase in the Council build at Beech Tree Place – the £30 million budget grew to £44.2 million – is a bit daft. Consider if you will, how two other Council owned companies Sutton Housing Partnership and Sutton Living – these companies transact with one another on property – yet share the same Board Chair.  Impartial?

We need to have a Council that listens to residents – by the same token, just as the voices against ULEZ have been heard, residents need to ask questions.  Your friends in Croydon will be counting the cost of the chaos that has transpired there – don’t wait for the same to happen here, GET INVOLVED!

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What Will The New Year Bring?

Less austerity, peace on earth and love for one another – I hope – but as we approach Christmas and the New Year I thought I would write a blog to round off the year.

Nick, Tim and I were so grateful that the wonderful residents of Beddington re-elected us to represent them with the London Borough of Sutton – we thank you for giving us your trust.  Our strapline “Residents first, always” is as relevant now as it has ever been – with the undemocratic actions of the Administration in Sutton, probably more so.

What have we been up to since re-election in May 2022?   Well, we have continued to challenge the proposed building of a new SEN school on the small Sheen Way Playing Field.  The sticking point for the last 18 months has been the construction logistics plan which lays out the plans to bring a 12 metre articulated trailer plus a lorry cab around the narrow corners of the High View Estate. 

At  the start of all this in 2018 it was suggested that a “trial run” would be done but the Project Manager from the Department for Education has recently confirmed categorically that they will not do this. 

They are all relying on something called a swept path analyses – computer generated plans – but as has recently been the case at the Stafford Road/Sandy Lane South traffic lights these analyses are not always correct.  We are very concerned about this and are trying to establish a web of responsibility.  If something goes wrong we will know who to hold to account.

The people of the Highview Estate cannot be accused of nimbyism – just look at it from the children’s point of view.  They will be moved from a beautiful 33 hectare site with green spaces and trees (good for soaking up CO2 which emits from the incinerator).  They can improve their life skills by using the cafe in the park, walk safely to Hackbridge railway station or Croydon Road for buses, to access public transport and use the park for nature studies and recreation. 

There will be no cafe nearby unless they walk the Stafford Road to Morrisons and they will have to cross the Fiveways junction to walk to Waddon station. 

The roads to access the High View Estate are always busy, Croydon Road/Plough Lane/Stafford Road are frequently jammed and the school travel plan has yet to be submitted.  Journeys for the mini buses will take longer, that is inevitable. 

The site of the proposed new school will have very little room for an allotment as they have now, there is certainly going to be no room for car boot sales and the area will definitely not take car parking should there be a Christmas Fayre held on the premises.  If the school wishes to have a car boot sale as they do now they will have to pay to hire Beddington Park like every organisation does.  These special needs children deserve a new school in an area not surrounded by industrial estate, houses and a railway line (14 trains an hour). 

The Sheen Way Playing Field has been recognised by the London Borough of Sutton as a surface water flood plain and residents are rightly concerned that concreting over it will increase their risks of flooding.  Every document I have read about this in relation to the school says the school building will be protected but what about residents?  Flood enough, and you can’t get flood insurance so who will pay to protect them?

Beddington Farmlands Restoration Roadmap

On another tack I have served on the Conservation Access Management Committee for the last four years.  It is this committee that is tasked with working with Viridor and others to complete the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve.  I was re-elected to serve on the Committee at the AGM in July 2022. 

Imagine my surprise when, via a third party, I learned that Sutton Council through its Committee Services Department have chucked me off so they can bring in a Councillor from the ruling Liberal Democrats who does not live in the ward and has no connection with residents or their views.

Since being elected in 2018, I have never treated anyone I come into contact with – Residents, Councillors or Officers – disrespectfully and I do not expect them to treat me any differently. 

I wish to stress here and now that Tim Foster as Chair of the CAMC continues to hold those who appear to be delaying the process accountable.  It has been an honour to serve alongside Tim as well as local residents and others as a Councillor on the CAMC and if the Restoration is not complete by 31st December 2023 it will not be down to that Committee but rather a lack of commitment by some major players – after all the CAMC was established in 2013 what actually happened in the first 5 years?

Other aspects of my work as a Councillor include dealing with residents’ problems and trying to get satisfactory solutions for them.  This is my bread and butter work which I take seriously and I hope residents recognise that I always do my best. 

If anyone is worrying about the cost of living crisis and heating their homes there is a lot of information on the Sutton Council website.  If you can’t access this please contact me :

Email me: jillian.green@sutton.gov.uk ,

Message through Facebook

Or call me on 020 8770 4978.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Jillian

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Why Democracy is a dirty word in Sutton

After the May election, Sutton Liberal Democrats decided to marginalise residents in the North and East of the Borough, those  most radically hit by the effects of the Viridor Incinerator, who dared to elect Independent or Labour Councillors. 

Irrespective of their own reduced vote and an overall 3 seat majority, they set about ensuring that every Standing Committees had a 2 seat Liberal Democrat majority and that Labour and Independents should share one seat on all except Strategy & Resources.

The Conservative majority opposition group voted against this but Committee  Services endorsed its unfair application.

But surely the Constitution will protect the people of Sutton and ensure proper scrutiny – after all, on the Council website  it states:

The Constitution includes “the rules that the Council must follow”

The Housing Economy and Business Committee (HEB) had approved the redevelopment of the Beech Tree Place site on St Nicholas Way budgeted at £30 million. It had passed Planning Committee but then a hiccup appeared in the guise of full tenders for the work.

It necessitated a meeting of the Urgency Committee – a properly constituted committee consisting of just two Liberal Democrats, the Leader and Deputy Leader and one Conservative member.  In the event, a second Conservative member, a member of the HEB Committee was allowed to attend to ask questions but not to vote.

What was the hiccup?  Well rather than the £30 million projected cost, the meeting was to approve an increase of expenditure to a whopping £44.2 million – very close to a 50% increase.  The Urgency Committee approved the increase.

The Independents have no representation on HEB and therefore no oversight, Cllr Vestey for Labour is on HEB but had no invitation to pose questions to the Urgency Committee.  Concerned when the residents of Sutton, like those round the country, are facing tough economic times, Labour and the Independents looked to the Constitution and thought they had found the answer in section 23.4 which states very clearly:

Definitive action on any decision of any Council committee (except in relation to planning) will be delayed if any four members of the Council give notice in writing to the Chief Executive before 10:00am on the third working day following the meeting that they want to requisition that decision. The written notice must also state:-

  • the reason the decision is being requisitioned;
  • to which Council body the requisitioners wish the matter to be referred, i.e. either the Full Council, committee, panel, forum, or working party; and
  • the outcome the members are seeking from this action.

We complied with the terms of that section and our suggested outcome was that the matter be debated at Full Council as the only area where Labour and Independent Councillors are able to contribute and awaited confirmation.

You guessed it – the Monitoring Officer has rejected the requisition.

It is strange because a requisition is, as you will note, not a request to be considered, but four elected Councillors requisitioning a decision.

Of course, whether you are an elected Liberal Democrat Councillor or  someone who voted for  them, you may like the idea of spending an additional £14.2 million in these straightened times – after all, it isn’t real money it is borrowed. 

And if you think building 93 flats in Sutton represents good value in a housing crisis, that same budget would buy 130 flats on the market today.  In fact the unit price of the accommodation will preclude any idea of shared ownership – they can only be rented and 50 years of rent  will not pay down the debt!

We asked for scrutiny, we asked for possible deferment within our requisition but the Monitoring Officer said no.  He added that the decision was not political and conveniently the Chief Executive is on vacation.

It makes a nonsense of democracy, it makes a nonsense of the Constitution and it makes fools of residents of the London Borough of Sutton.

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Jillian Green – the Latest Situation as I see it!

I hope everyone is coping with this heat whether you are on holiday, sunning yourselves in the garden or sitting indoors with curtains drawn and lights off. 

What a mess the country seems to be in with the rising cost of living and energy bills, now we have been told officially about drought conditions and with the threat of a ULEZ scheme being brought in by Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London there could be great hardship to many, not least residents of the London Borough of Sutton and Beddington Ward. 

Fear not about the ULEZ, Councillor Barry Lewis, Chair of Environment and Sustainable Transport Committee has written to the Mayor of London saying the Council cannot back the proposed ULEZ expansion to Sutton as currently proposed.  He does say the Council welcomes initiatives which may improve air quality and people’s health (that’s rich coming from an administration that voted for the incinerator which is breaking air quality targets on a regular basis made worse by granting Planning Permission for Viridor to install a new tank that will be used to house dirty diesel for use in firing up the boilers). 

Councillor Lewis says in his letter “any expansion of the ULEZ must be accompanied by significant investment in public transport, better cycling and walking infrastructure, a fair and comprehensive scrappage scheme and extension of the planned implementation date”. 

At least he has written but whether a Mayor under such financial pressure will take notice is another matter especially as Sutton has always been at the bottom of the list when dishing out financial support and grants to London Boroughs.

In a Councillor Briefing issued to us last Friday we were told that residents will receive flyers with information about a range of support available through various agencies in Sutton as well as the ways residents can help others. 

I thought the Council meant they might just be looking at ways they could reduce various financial payments residents pay to the Borough including Council tax, rents and parking fines perhaps.  Someone will tell me that they can’t do this legally but as Sutton has one of the highest Council tax rates of all London Boroughs, a small cut might be a help.

Before anyone official gets on their high horse about my suggestions we have to do something to help those struggling in our Borough.  The saying goes ”for evil to prosper good men need do nothing”.

Overgrown Cycle Paths

Complaints from us Councilors to the Council about the crisis that is Beddington Lane prompted a meeting with very senior officers from the Council.  It allowed Nick, Tim and myself to express our views on the total shambles that exists for residents and businesses alike. 

As Councillor Foster put it there was a great fanfare from the Council at the opening of the road and within 24 hours there were traffic queues because the roundabout is not being used properly and, yes, you’ve guessed it, another set of temporary traffic lights.

Why we need an HGV Ban – where would you like your child to be walking?

We expressed the view that the residents of Beddington (and indeed Hackbridge ward) are treated like third class citizens because in demonstrating their democratic right to vote for who they want to represent them they feel like they are being punished by the ruling administration.

The senior officers said this was not the case but we drew their attention to:

  • Parking on Beddington Lane restricting the road in parts to single lane – the Officers have committed to a process to introduce double yellow lines from the Village to the Beddington Tram Stop.  Legally, this involves a 6-week consultation period and I would encourage all residents to participate.
  • The dust and aggregate covering the road and houses – officers agreed to look into this and the permissions granted for the businesses causing the dust.  It was acknowledged that the hedgerows need attention as does the street cleaning to make the cycle ways and pedestrian paths safer.
  • Therapia Lane – we once more focused on the rationale for the Council to properly adopt Therapia Lane – there were the normal platitudes about finance but it is just over a month since they announced the next £902,000 from the GLA grant to be spent on the Sutton Works Project in Sutton High Street.  We pointed out the £3+ million in Business Rates generated by this ward and also Section 106 monies – it is a matter of will not a matter of money.
  • HGV ban: 4 ½ years ago, officers talked of an HGV ban in Beddington Village and we are still waiting. Croydon continue to object and it could finish up as a legal process.

Beddington and Hackbridge continue to be denied a proper voice on the Standing Committees in spite of cross-party efforts from ourselves, Labour and Conservatives. We understand that there will soon be a petition from residents looking to raise the matter once more at Council.

The Liberal Democrats have an overall majority of 3 yet have demanded – and been supported by officers – a 2 seat majority on every Statutory Committee and shared the representation that Independents had in the last Council between Labour and ourselves.  It is unfair and undemocratic and denies Beddington and Hackbridge residents a voice on these Committees.

Please support the petition when it is introduced.

Finally, I wish everyone all the best for the rest of the summer and to parents and pupils, all the best for the new school year.

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DEMOCRACY – don’t make me laugh!

Please accept my apologies for the long overdue blog. Firstly, thanks go to all our Independent supporters in Beddington who voted Nick, Tim and I back in to serve as your Ward Councillors for the next four years.  As our motto says “Residents first, always” and we will adhere to this to the letter.

It has been a very disappointing start to the Council year.  As most of you will know the Liberal Democrats have managed to maintain control of the Council by the skin of their teeth with a tiny majority of 3,

At Council meetings, this becomes a majority of 2 because the Mayor only has a casting vote and routinely abstains. 

However, with the collusion of Officers, they have sought to marginalise both Independent Councillors and the three newly elected Labour Councillors.  In the 2018-2022, through proportional representation, we Independent Councillors were represented on every standing Committee. 

What the ruling Group have done is to claim a two-seat majority on every standing Committee and share our positions on Standing Committees between ourselves and Labour

So, as it stands, I have no opportunity to speak out for you, dear resident, because I am allocated a seat on Licensing and Scrutiny neither of which have much to do with residents’ problems. 

To say I am angry about this is an understatement.  It will be of no surprise to those of you who follow local politics that the Liberal Democrats rejected the two proposals, one from the Conservatives and one from Labour backed up by the Independents to extend the membership of some of the Committees which would enable true democratic representation. 

We accept that the Liberal Democrats should have a majority on each Committee but the Conservative proposal offered a majority of one on each Committee but with representation by Labour and Independent and involvement in every debate – that is what the residents of the North East of the Borough voted for.

As usual they quote the Constitution.  This increasingly worthless document was written when they had a huge majority in a two party Council –  there is now representation by four distinct groups and we have asked the Monitoring Officer to recognise that but  there is little interest in change.

Democracy in Sutton died the night of 5 May 2022.

We will fight on – challenging where we can and holding the administration to account for some of the dreadful statements they make publicly. 

In their manifesto which only few will have seen, they say to make walking and cycling easier they are going to look at restricting HGV’s in residential areas.  Wonder how that works as for 60 months or more the High View Estate is going to be inundated with heavy goods lorries and an 80ft crane being manoeuvred round roads that are narrow and were built nearly 100 years ago. 

Councillor Dombey, Leader of the Liberal Democrats actually admitted to residents who were in attendance at a meeting in 2017 that access to the Sheen Way playing fields would be very difficult. 

And as if to reinforce these contradictions, planning permission has been granted for Social  Housing on Beddington Lan when the promised HGV ban in Beddington Village looks unlikely to happen any time soon.

Funnily enough, at that same Planning Committee, the 6 Liberal Democrat members voted for an increased volume of pollution by supporting Viridor’s application for a new diesel tank which will free off existing storage for a high sulphur content fuel for the incinerator.  Invest in the Cancer Hub in Belmont and cause Cancer in Hackbridge and Beddington!

That is all I have to tell you at the moment but as Colombo says “just one more thing”. 

At some time in the near future the Local Plan is up for review.  I implore you all to keep an eye out for this and any consultations that may come up. 

If the residents of the High View Estate had known earlier about the proposals in the Local Plan and been consulted regarding the destruction of the beautiful Sheen Way Playing Field we might have been able to fight it a lot earlier. 

The Liberal Democrats say they want to keep green spaces so be prepared to put up resistance if they want to take yours – just look what they are destroying on Sheen Way

Sheen Way 2019
Sheen Way Cropped Ready for Build 2022
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Beddington North Neighbourhood Forum

Well that is the Local Elections over for another 4 years and with the opportunity for change and improvement in the hands of the local residents/electors, it is a real commentary on the state of National and Local politics that over 60% of those eligible to vote in the London Borough of Sutton did not bother to vote.

Is it really any surprise that the political shenanigans in Westminster where the only difference between the Labour and Conservative appears to be the choice of a glass of Chablis or a pint of Durham Bitter.

I think the Independents in Beddington at least proved that Local Elections should be about – service to and involvement with the residents.

An early opportunity to participate directly in change comes next Thursday 19th May at 6.30 pm and the Annual General Meeting of the Beddington North Neighbourhood Forum (BNNF) at The Change Foundation Cricket Ground, Plough Lane, Wallington, SM6 8JQ.

A familiar friend to the Wandle

It is the opportunity to elect – or for that matter put yourself forward – for Chair and other officer responsibilities.

The BNNF has a potentially critical part to play in Beddington with development of a Neighbourhood Plan, direct involvement in the planned access to the Beddington Farmlands when it opens to the public after December 2023 and of course a forum for direct briefing by Council officials.

All residents are welcome and it is a real opportunity to make a difference – don’t leave it to others, you may not like the results.

Finally – as someone observed on the local Facebook page – Beddington, especially in the Beddington Lane is getting to be a mess. Let’s try to keep our own little piece tidy and the impact will spread!

Bin it for Beddington
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Paper Candidates

What do they mean to voters?

One of the features of this election is the impact political funds have had on the attempts of the major parties to fight even a Boroughwide campaign and of course what the fact that 16 Liberal Democrat Councillors not seeking to stand again signalled about the difficulties the establishment parties face.

Paid for deliveries either through the Post Office or leafleteers by the local Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. Newspaper wraps of the Sutton & Croydon Guardian and paid for Facebook inserts by the Labour Party.   But most especially an absolute profusion of “paper candidates” by all three major groups.

So, what is meant by the term “paper candidate” – well in local elections, unlike General Elections, there is no financial cost for registering as a candidate.  All that is needed is a proposer, seconder and support from local residents.

That means that a major party can register candidates in a ward that they have no realistic chance of winning but at the same time appear to their traditional voters to offer the opportunity of continued support.

In these straightened times, it also allows them to focus their scarce resources on areas where they have a chance of representation whilst giving the impression of being capable of forming the next administration.

Is that fair to voters? Probably not!

For those of a certain age, remember the song “Paper Roses” and its chorus verse:

Paper roses, paper roses

Oh how real those roses seemed to me

But they’re only imitation

Like your imitation love for me!

For Paper Roses, read Paper Candidates – they aren’t properly canvassing, some don’t even live in the Borough, let alone the ward and if they can’t be bothered to work at that, why are they worth your vote?

When we were elected in 2018, we never realised the hard work needed to do the job properly and there is really no point in standing if you aren’t prepared to do the hard yards. The secret is, we know what is involved and the rewards are heart-warming and that is why we are standing in Beddington and are encouraged by other community minded colleagues standing with us!

Therefore, on Thursday, as your pencil hovers over the choices of three candidates, ask yourself – did I just get a generic paper like the Beddington Champion or the Carshalton and Wallington Gazette on paper as thin as their candidates – or do I think there are three people who are going to work hard for me and my family?

In the Beddington and Wallington – the answer is that if you vote for the three Independents in your ward you will get proper representation at Committees and at Council as well as strong allies to deal with any shortfall in the services you expect from your Council.

Vote Independent on 5th May
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The Importance of a Vote

Right now, our news bulletins are full of the horrors of war in Ukraine where a people who have known the taste of democracy are fighting to avoid the yolk of dictatorship. 

Watching the news last night, I have to confess tears when the video of a laughing baby was shown against the background of the news that its life had been cut short at 3 months along with the life of its Mother and Grandmother.

It brought to mind the often misquoted “One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic”, but the Father’s reaction of continuing the fight for democracy was a reflection of the importance of the ability to vote for the Government of your choice.

That same news bulletin carried the news of President Macron’s victory in the French election and this morning the bare statistics of that victory are published.  The headlines offer the news that he won with 58.54% of the vote versus Le Pen’s 41.46%.

But the real story is the 28.01% of the voters who did not vote – it means that realistically, President Macron leads one of the most powerful countries in Europe with just 42.14% of the French voters wanting him!

It is the flaw of democracy if people do not get involved – as we approach the Local Elections on May 5th it becomes very relevant to everyone on a local level.  And for people on the eastern side of the London Borough of Sutton, we only need to look over the border at bankrupt Croydon to understand why we need to think hard about what faces us and who we vote for.

And let’s just analyse the last bit of voting we had locally. That was  at the by election in 2019 for Wallington North where the winning vote represented 38.24% of the votes.  But with a turnout of 31.36%, that winning vote actually represented a shade under 12% of the voters of Wallington North, or put another way, Wallington North is represented by someone that 88% of the voters did not vote for.

Not knocking the individual, that is not the object – it is an electoral system that was established for universal suffrage but one where politicians have set their own agenda thereby creating voter apathy.

Why bother when they all sound the same?

That in turn has allowed us to get to a situation where those same politicians can align themselves with a small, special interest group (sometimes radical) to deliver the small margins that get them elected.

There is only one solution – if you want your opinion to count, use your vote. 

In Sutton, we have had continued rises in Council Tax – the ruling Liberal Democrats blame Central Government but if that were the case, Sutton’s rises in Council Tax would not be the 4th highest in Greater London, if it was the Government’s fault, we would all be in the same boat!

They praise their initiatives in SDEN, the London Cancer Hub, Sutton Works etc – but it is the residents are underwriting those initiatives to the tune of £100+ million. A great legacy for our children and grandchildren! 

It is a signal that change is needed – the agenda needs to be set by the residents not politicians – but the only way to change that is to use your vote.

You may have noticed a distinct lack of posters and other election paraphernalia – it is because the Ruling Group want you to stay at home so they can get their small number of supporters to deliver their comfortable seats.

Let’s surprise them and turn out in numbers on the 5th May and VOTE!