by Sam, Ruth and Chris on 13 February, 2022
Sutton Local Committee met on 10 February in the Salvation Army Hall. It was good to meet up with residents and community representatives once again face to face. As well as local Councillors from the Sutton North, Sutton Central and Sutton West wards, the Committee also includes various representatives from local community groups. In Sutton North these include: Chaucer Estate Residents Association, Friends of Rosehill Parks, Friends of Sutton Green, Greenshaw Residents Engagement Group and Sutton Garden Suburb Residents Association.
The agenda for the meeting, with links to the papers, and the audio recording, is here.
The meeting began with a minute’s silence in remembrance of the four young boys who tragically died in a house fire in Collingwood Road in December.
As well as an update from the police on safety and crime in our area, and an update on COVID, issues discussed included Sutton’s Age Friendly Journey, progress with setting up Community Environment Champions, Domestic Abuse and the White Ribbon campaign.
Sgt Nicholson from the Safer Sutton Partnership, who covers Sutton North, (and three other wards besides!) told us about the impact the pandemic had had on crime in our area. He noted that with many people working at home, there were fewer burglaries, though theft from cars had remained a problem. The number of offences with weapons remains small. The priorities for the police are violence against women and girls, and domestic violence. The latter remains a problem as many people do not want to prosecute.
The Metropolitan Police have recently set up new town centre policing teams, but Sutton is one of only two Boroughs that have not received a team. The Council is making representations on this. In the High St the police have been successful in arresting several drug dealers, and have cracked down on organised beggars and street drinkers, though this needs to be maintained.
Residents raised concerns with Sgt Nicholson about gangs of teenagers tipping over planters in the High St, graffiti and minor acts of vandalism. Incidents like this should always be reported to the police.
Dr Choudhury, Sutton’s Director of Public Health, updated us on the latest position with COVID. In line with the national picture, Sutton has seen a rapid fall in cases since the New Year, although these are still at a high level. Hospitalisations are also falling. There has been a good uptake of vaccinations compared with other Boroughs, and good partnership working with the NHS, voluntary groups and housing associations.
His key messages were:
As always at these meetings there was a public question time. Among these was a question about the hoarding outside the former Prince Regent which leaves the pavement very narrow – it was explained that this is in line with legal requirements, but will be replaced with a covered walkway as soon as possible. There was also a question about the improvements to the Oakhill Rd/ High St junction and the Angel Hill traffic lights, where safety improvements for pedestrians are needed. Junction improvements need funding from TfL, and the lack of funding for TfL by the current government is affecting a number of traffic schemes.
Nicola Upton, Chief Executive of Age Concern Sutton, told us of the progress being made towards an Age Friendly Borough. The vision is for Sutton to give older people a stronger voice, ensure that their concerns are addressed, with practical measures such as accessible toilets and seating in the High St, and more understanding from retail staff and value the contribution that they make to our community. We also heard of the issues faced as we move to a more digital world, for some people.
The initiative is supported by the World Health Organisation, and benefits everyone. In Sutton there will be three themes:
There are also links with Dementia Friendly Sutton.
Ruth Dombey noted that Sutton’s pioneering work in this area was being increasingly recognised across the country.
Residents raised concerns about the TfL plans, as a result of government funding cuts, to phase out the 60+ Oyster card. This is the card which provides a bridge for 60 year olds until they are eligible on retirement age for a Freedom Pass. This will greatly limit the mobility and well-being of this age group, as well as increasing road congestion.
The meeting also discussed the new scheme of Community Environment Champions. There are now 42 champions across the Borough. They will work together to develop and promote environmental schemes. They are currently learning a lot about their role. There is a lot of interest in setting up a Repair Café, where you can bring broken things and help repair them.
We heard about the local group who had set up a community garden in Lenham Road.
If you are interested in being a Champion email [email protected]
Domestic abuse has been an increased problem during the pandemic. We heard at the meeting that referrals to the Councils Domestic Abuse advisory Service had increased by 77%, while there were also more referrals to the Police. In Sutton there is a strong partnership between the Council, Police, NHS and other support agencies, and the focus is increasingly on working with perpetrators to help them change their behaviour as well as supporting the victims.
In Sutton there is a one stop shop – every Wednesday at Sutton Baptist Church from 9.30am to 11.30am. There is also support for young people, and a parenting programme.
Sutton Council is working towards White Ribbon accreditation. This is a campaign to encourage men and boys to make the promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
The meeting heard from Jeff Richards about Sutton Soup, a social way of raising money for charities, which is now back in action following the ending of lockdown restrictions. See their website if you want to attend one of their events – the next is 21 April – or want to pitch a project.
Finally the meeting had a report on spending of the Public Realm budget, including a proposal to provide lighting for the path across Sutton Green – from the bus stop to Stayton Road. This will increase safety in the park as well as providing an electricity supply for community events.
The next meeting is likely to be in June. As you can see from this report back, the meeting covers a wide range of interesting local issues. You are all welcome to attend.
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