NEW News from Merton Council
Councillors will next week be asked to approve the demolition and rebuild of Bishopsford Road bridge, following the partial collapse during heavy rainfall and river flooding in June last year.
A range of options to reopen the bridge are being put to the council’s decision-making Cabinet on Monday 24 February, with the recommendation to pull the structure down and build a completely new one in its place.
If approved, work will begin on site in March to remove the broken parts of the bridge and pre-build work including ecological assessments will take place. Main construction would then start by May and aim to be completed by Spring 2021.
Subject to the Cabinet decision, the council will also be publishing a detailed timetable of works to keep residents informed, as well as posting regular updates on the council’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “Reopening the bridge to all vehicles is a high priority for the council and it has been working hard, with its partners, to do this and mitigate the impact of its closure.
“I completely understand the frustration of the past eight months while structural assessments have been carried out, but it has been important to undertake that work to ensure a safe repair or rebuild can take place.
“Having done those assessments, we are determined to move forward as quickly as possible and get the bridge reopened.”
The Cabinet will take the decision at its meeting on Monday February 24.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Read the full report here:
For updated information on Bishopford Bridge work, visit:
Many thousands of EU nationals based in Merton have applied to remain in the UK under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS), but Merton Council reports that there are still many more who are yet to start the process.
Government figures show that as of 31 December 24,200 Merton residents had submitted an EUSS application and, of these, 21,660 have been concluded. However, after consulting local community groups, the council believes that there are still many people who are eligible for the EUSS who are yet to apply in particular vulnerable citizens such as older people and non-EEA nationals.
The council is urging all residents from EU countries and eligible non-EEA nationals who want to stay in the UK to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme as soon as possible. The government have said that all EU nationals must apply for Settled Status to keep their right to remain in the country and secure their rights to vote, get free medical care and welfare benefits.
EU nationals carry out many important jobs that benefit the borough’s economy and have close personal relationships with British citizens living in the borough. The council is therefore concerned about the impact on the local community if many of them do not receive full settled status.
In an effort to increase the number making successful applications, the council has commissioned specialist services to give residents free support and advice on the scheme. Residents can access free help to make EUSS applications from Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth, South West London Law Centres or the Association for Polish Family.
The council is also appealing for local employers, the voluntary sector, schools and colleges to encourage any EU or eligible non-EEA nationals in their networks to apply. Whilst there are high profile campaigns both locally and nationally to raise awareness of the EUSS, many will only hear about it through word of mouth.
The deadline to apply is 30 June 2021, but the council is flagging up that this could be brought forward depending on the outcome of negotiations with the EU. If the UK does not strike a deal with EU before the end of the transition period the government have said that no new applications will be accepted after 31 December 2020.
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Mark Allison, said: “Many of our friends and neighbours may have been born outside Merton, but they’ve put down roots and helped to make this a great place for families. We want them to continue to contribute, and as a business-like council we are doing all we can to encourage our residents and employees who are EU nationals to fill out the paperwork so that they can enjoy living here with their families.
“It’s fantastic news that so many of our European friends, neighbours and family members are choosing to stay in our community after Brexit, but we are gravely concerned that, unless more of them apply for the EUSS, our communities will be broken up.
“We don’t want our neighbours and loved ones to lose the right to remain here, their right to vote or their rights to free medical care and welfare benefits and are offering free specialist advice services to support those who need help with their application.
“They have helped make our borough a great place for everyone to live in, and it is only right that we are here to help them when they need it too.”
- Full details on the numbers of EUSS applications can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/eu-settlement-scheme-quarterly-statistics-december-2019
- For access help and advice, residents can contact Citizens Advice Merton by emailing email@example.com calling 020 8687 9297
- There is no fee for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme
The figure of 24,200 applicants represents a 63% increase over a three month period from September–December 2019.
Almost 70 voluntary and community groups across the borough benefited from £10m in funding this year, as Merton Council continued its commitment to bridging the gap between the best and worst off in the borough.
It is the second year running that the Council has increased funding to the local voluntary sector, with an extra £107,000 being awarded this year.
The money will ensure voluntary groups can continue providing vital services across Merton, ranging from holiday clubs for children with disabilities to care for vulnerable adults, mental health support services and financial support for local projects such as community theatres and the popular Deen City Farm.
In addition, the Council continued its commitment to supporting projects that bridge the socio-economic gap between the east and west of the borough, including the award of more than £130,000 to Commonside Community Development Trust to boost local skills and wellbeing for residents in the Pollard Hill area.
Other services funded by the council to bridge the gap include HIV advice sessions in barber shops in Mitcham, exercise classes at Age UK Merton’s base in Mitcham, and the charity’s befriending projects targeting BME groups. The Council also awarded almost £300,000 to the Alzheimer Society to provide a Dementia Hub in the borough.
In total, 68 local community and voluntary groups will benefit from the Council, which has now allocated more than £60million to the voluntary sector in the past five years.
Cabinet Member for Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Community Safety, Councillor Edith Macauley said: “The amazing work carried out by the voluntary organisations and volunteers across Merton is the lifeblood of our communities, and so it’s a real pleasure to be able to increase their funding again this year.
“The sector brings people together from all walks of life to enjoy community activities, and enhances the lives of all our residents from the very youngest to those in their more mature years – helping to make Merton a great place for families.
“It also provides vital services to help us bridge the gap between the east and west of the borough, and provide better life opportunities for everyone.”
The Voluntary Sector Funding Database for 2019/20 also shows more than £220,000 has been allocated to assist non-profit making organisations with discretionary rate relief on the properties they occupy.
These include a host of well-loved clubs and projects for children, sports facilities, community support groups and charities.
Notes for editors
The Voluntary Sector Funding Database has been published annually since 2011 as part of the council’s commitment to transparency.
Link to website www.merton.gov.uk/vs-funding
Merton Council wants to hear the valuable views of Merton’s businesses on the council’s budget and business plan proposals.
Councillor Stephen Alambritis, the Leader of Merton Council will be at Merton Civic Centre on Thursday, 20 February from 6pm to 7pm to answer any questions business owners may have about the proposals for 2020/21, and the business plan 2020-24. The Leader will be joined by cabinet members and council officers at the event.
The event is part of the council’s annual consultation with businesses on the financial decisions it makes to balance the budget, and plan for the coming four years. Details of the proposed business plan will be considered by the council’s cabinet on Monday 24 February, and the plan will be available on the council’s website before the meeting.
Merton Council, along with all the other London Boroughs and the Greater London Assembly (GLA), have agreed to continue to operate a Business Rates Pool based on the 67 per cent retention scheme for the coming financial year. This means the London boroughs will receive a 30 per cent share from the business rates collected across the capital, the GLA will get 37% and the Government will receive the balance of 33%.
The aim of the rates retention pool is to enable councils to keep a greater proportion of London’s business rates to provide additional resources for local services. Merton Council recognises the importance of a vibrant local economy to the borough, and the key role local businesses play in creating jobs and prosperity for residents.
The responses to the consultation will all be considered as part of the business plan which will be reported back to the Cabinet meeting on the 24th February and finalised at full council on Wednesday 4 March.
Leader of Merton Council Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “I run a small business myself and I was spokesperson for the Federation of Small Businesses, so I understand how important flourishing local businesses are to the success of our borough.
“I really value discussing our financial plans with the business community, and hearing their thoughts on what we’re doing. This consultation is all part on our ongoing work to ensure that Merton continues to be a business-friendly borough, including the work we are doing on automatic billing for small business relief.
“As a council we are proud to have adopted a business-like approach to all our services and to the financial decisions we make.”
Notes for editors
The Government designated a pan-London business rates pool in 2018-19, which piloted 100% retention in that year, and this was revised to pilot 75% retention in 2019-20.
The Government confirmed in September 2019 its intention not to renew the London pilot in 2020-21, and for London to revert back to the pre-existing 2017-18 67% retention scheme (which was a partial pilot, reflecting the incremental impact of the rolling in of the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) Revenue Support Grant (RSG) and the Transport for London investment grant).
Residents and members of the public are invited to attend Merton’s annual Holocaust Memorial event on Tuesday 21 January from 7pm to 9pm. This year’s theme is ‘Stand Together’
The event to be held in the Council Chamber marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Aushwitz-Birkenau and the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Bosnia.
The evening’s programme includes contributions from a holocaust survivor, local politicians, community representatives, faith and belief leaders and the Wimbledon Synagogue choir.
Mayor of Merton, Councillor Janice Howard, who will be attending the event said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity to remember those who were victims of terrible genocides in the Second World War and in more recent times. The civic event shows our commitment to continuously working to erase hatred, prejudice and discrimination in the borough.”
Cabinet Member for Women and Equalities, Councillor Laxmi Attawar said: “We must never forget those who suffered during the holocaust and other genocides. In Merton we are lucky to live in a borough rich in diversity, and this event will see all residents unite.”
The council also has an exhibition in the Civic Centre displaying information on the Holocaust and other genocides.
For further information on Holocaust memorial events visit www.merton.gov.uk/holocaustmemorialday
The Access Centre at Raynes Park High School has been awarded Autism Accreditation by the National Autistic Society. Accredited status is awarded to educational organisations where staff have a good working knowledge of methods and approaches which produce positive outcomes for people with autism.
During their assessment, the Autism Accreditation Award Committee found that The Access Centre:
- has largely effective and person centred support
- received very positive feedback from autistic people and/or their families which spoke to the quality of practice
- provides personalised educational and therapeutic support rooted in an understanding of the strengths and challenges of each student
- provides a calm and safe space for students to work, relax and gain confidence
- has an effective key worker system is in place
- supports students in emotional self-regulation and in overcoming barriers to mainstream inclusion
- are well prepared for transition between year groups and to and from other settings.
The committee also said that it was very clear that the Access Centre contributes significantly to the quality of life of students with autism both during their time at Raynes Park and as they progress into adulthood. Key to the success, according to the report, is a firm and clear commitment from the Head Teacher, Senior Leadership Team, Access Centre Manager and Staff Team to promote inclusion and ensure access to the whole curriculum and learning opportunities for autistic students.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools and Adult Education, Councillor Eleanor Stringer, said: “This accreditation is a testament to the hard work of the staff at Raynes Park, and I’m proud that they’ve been recognised for their dedication to improving education for students with an autistic spectrum condition. I am particularly proud of the finding that both students and parents at the school have a great deal of confidence in the work that the school does with their students”
The Leader of Merton Council has vowed to continue to fight plans to downgrade St Helier Hospital every step of the way.
Councillor Stephen Alambritis made the pledge as NHS Merton, Sutton and Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Groups, which are branding themselves Improving Healthcare Together, begin a public consultation tomorrow (8 January) on their plans to spend £500million of Government funding on improving health services at St Helier, Epsom and Sutton Hospitals.
The consultation names Sutton as the preferred option of the three sites for a new specialist emergency care hospital, on a site next to the Royal Marsden Hospital, which provides cancer care. This means that St Helier Hospital would lose its accident and emergency department as well as other vital services including the consultant-led maternity unit.
Merton Council will formally respond to the public consultation and is urging as many residents as possible to have their say before the closing date on Wednesday 1 April.
Cllr Alambritis said: “The plans being put forward are terrible. A clear wish to downgrade St Helier hospital has been declared under cover of a ‘consultation exercise’. How can people in Merton have any faith in this at all? A vanity project, miles from those in greatest need, cannot be the answer to our health issues. The effect on Merton’s residents is just seen as irrelevant and the council will fight this every step of the way.
“It is critical that everyone who depends on St Helier Hospital has their say in its future by responding to this consultation.”
The public consultation will be available at www.improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk from Wednesday 8 January until Wednesday 1 April.
To request a hard copy of the document, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3880 0271.
A rare first-edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has been found on the shelves of Wimbledon Library. The book, which could potentially be of very high value, was discovered by Emily Saiban, 11.
Emily, who has read all the books and is a Gryffindor, learnt how to identify the tell-tale signs by watching a video on YouTube. She couldn’t believe her eyes when the book she had taken out ticked all the boxes:
- The publisher was listed as Bloomsbury
- The copyright was to ‘Joanne Rowling’ rather than ‘JK Rowling’, and it was dated 1997
- The print line was ’10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1’
- On page 53, in a list of school supplies that Harry receives from Hogwarts, ‘1 wand’ was accidentally printed twice
- A younger Dumbledore appeared on the back cover
The book is in remarkably good condition considering it has spent 22 years in circulation. The lack of wear and tear has been helped by the fact that the copy had been part of the Schools Library Service and hadn’t been available on the open shelves until transferred to Wimbledon Library in February this year. Since the transfer, it has been borrowed three times.
The sought after copy has now been taken out of circulation and is being kept safe in the offices of Merton Council. However, locals will not be denied the chance to read the first in JK Rowling’s iconic series as there are plenty of copies available across all of Merton’s libraries.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Commerce, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, said: “I was spellbound when I first heard of this truly amazing find. Our thanks go to Emily who has shown us all that she has great detective skills and a passion for literature.
“Her story goes to show that you never know what you might find on our library shelves. Though there has been a worrying pattern of libraries closing across the country, Merton have bucked the trend. Not only have we kept all seven of our libraries opened, we’ve also upgraded all but one of them and extended their opening hours. Our excellent library services also includes the home visit library service – so if you cannot come to the library, we will bring the library to you! I’d encourage all our residents to make good use of these great resources.”
Notes to editor
- Information on upgrades to give Merton’s libraries new children’s sensory areas can be found here: https://news.merton.gov.uk/2019/05/28/mertons-libraries-to-get-even-better-with-funding-to-create-childrens-sensory-areas/
The head of Merton Council’s library service has been recognised by the Queen in the New Year Honours list.
Anthony Hopkins has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM), for services to libraries. This honour is for people who have given a hands-on service to the community that has made a significant difference.
Anthony’s dedication to Merton libraries goes back to his childhood. From early visits to Pollards Hill library as a toddler, Anthony went on to do work experience at Mitcham Library, which led to a job as a Saturday assistant. Two decades later, Anthony is still working for Merton Council, now as Head of Libraries, Heritage and Adult Education.
In his time working for the library service, Anthony has seen the transition from paper library cards and book stamps to self-service technology. Despite challenging financial times, Anthony has been instrumental in ensuring that all seven of the council’s award winning libraries have remained open. His hard-working staff are supported by a committed team of volunteers and library opening hours have been extended.
Anthony oversaw the planning and construction of a brand new building for Colliers Wood Library, which was officially opened last year. Anthony has expanded the reach of the libraries into the communities they serve, overseeing initiatives including two Arts Spaces, which stage cultural activities and performances in Wimbledon and Mitcham libraries, and Wimbletech, a hub for entrepreneurs in Wimbledon Library.
Anthony is dedicated to introducing as many people as possible to the libraries – increasing library membership through schemes for school children and organising pop up libraries to visit areas where there are low levels of library membership. Earlier this year, Anthony’s team successfully bid for £95k of Arts Council funding for themed sensory areas in each of the libraries for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
In addition to his work in Merton, Anthony is the past President of London Libraries, the association of London library heads of services, and has worked on a number of regional and national projects to improve libraries. He led a public library advocacy campaign and established the annual London Libraries Festival World of Possibilities.
Anthony said: “I am very surprised to have received this honour and want to thank all the wonderful people I have worked with during my career. I am proud to work for Merton Council and I am delighted with the way we have managed to develop our library services in challenging times. Whilst I am very grateful for the personal acknowledgement I would like to dedicate this honour to the staff and volunteers of the library service who continuously go the extra mile to provide excellent services.”
The Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, said: “On behalf of everyone at the Council, I would like to congratulate Anthony on his New Year Honour from the Queen.
“This is a very well deserved honour, recognising the enormous contribution Anthony has made to library services in Merton and beyond.
“While other local authorities have been forced to close libraries in these tough financial times, Anthony’s hard work and innovation has helped to ensure that Merton has kept all of our award-winning libraries open and established them as thriving community hubs.”
Anthony is due to receive his honour at a presentation in the new year at Buckingham Palace.
A new safe haven to give those who are sleeping on the streets a warm place to go during the day, has opened its doors.
Merton Council has teamed up with Commonside Community Development to create a drop-in café for rough sleepers at the New Horizon Centre in Pollards Hill called the ‘Merton Horizon’ Project . The drop-in, at the centre in South Lodge Avenue is to open for four months over the cold winter months. Residents, businesses and organisations are being asked to help spread the word to ensure those facing days spent on the streets know about the drop in centre.
Anyone sleeping rough is invited to attend the centre from 8.30am on all weekdays where they can enjoy a two-course hot lunch, play table games or watch television. Attendees will also be able to get support and advice with benefits, drug or alcohol addiction, education, training and employment options and help with any paperwork they may need to complete. Merton Council is committed to working with all its partners to tackle both homelessness and rough sleeping and the new drop-in is one of a number of initiatives in the borough.
Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “It’s just as cold and bleak during the day on the streets as it is at night during times of severe weather, and there is just as many dangers for vulnerable people. There is an increase in night shelter provision in the winter but often people do have leave the premises during the day. This is why we are urging people to help spread the word about this new facility available for rough sleepers.”
“The council is committed to supporting their most vulnerable service users turn their lives around. The centre is a place where people can just come along and relax in a safe warm place, access the support they need or if they like, take part in a range of activities.”
Recently the council hosted a floating hub for rough sleepers in a former community police station in Wilson Avenue in Merton. Rough sleepers were invited to stay in the temporary hub for up to 14 nights in November, while there needs were assessed by St Mungo’s Homeless Charity. Commissioned by the Greater London Authority, St Mungo’s floating hubs aim to bring vital services together under one roof so individual action plans can be made for clients.
The council has strong and established relationship with its partners such as Faith in Action, Winter Night Shelter, Westminster Drug Project, Evolve and the YMCA to help address the needs of rough sleepers including those who are socially isolated or who have mental health or addiction issues. The Winter Night Shelter which runs for a period of 14 weeks is partly funded by Merton Council, Wimbledon Tennis Foundation and other voluntary and community donations, opened for the winter in November. The Merton Horizon project is being run in conjunction with a similar service run by Faith In Action, which is open Wednesday and Friday from 10am until 3pm during the winter months.
If you are concerned about a rough sleeper please let the council know via Street Link which can be contacted via www.streetlink.org.uk. Telephone 0300 500 0914
Notes for editors
The GLA and St Mungo’s have set up and run 16 floating hubs across London and have a successful track record in supporting rough sleepers. The initiative has been found to have a high success rate in helping rough sleepers turn around their lives.
Merton council has secured a three month ban on visitors to a flat which had become a magnet for drug users.
The council successfully applied for a partial premises closure order, on a flat in London Road in Mitcham at Wimbledon Magistrates Court on Thursday 12 December.
The action was taken to protect residents from the intimidating behaviour carried out by large number of visitors to the privately owned flat. The property was being used by associates of the tenant to take drugs, and the visitors frequently hung around and slept in communal areas. Residents felt intimidated by the constant smell of drug fumes and the rowdy behaviour late at night.
Four residents provided statements which formed vital evidence, and helped secure the partial closure premises order for the three month period. The partial order means the tenant can remain in the property, but the only visitors allowed will be the landlord, managing agents, emergency services and healthcare providers. The closure order under Section 80 – Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 also allows premises to be completely closed.
Cabinet Member for Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Community Safety, Councillor Edith Macauley MBE, said:
“Residents have a right to feel safe in their own homes – no one should have to put up from such intimidating behaviour from their neighbours.
“We hope this action to ban unruly visitors to this property sends a strong message that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated in Merton, and that we will not hesitate to use all available powers to combat it.
“I would like to thank the residents for coming forward and providing evidence to help us secure this closure order. We continue to work with the community, the police and our other partners to tackle all forms of anti-social behaviour.”
Compliance with the partial order will be monitored by the police and residents. Failure to comply with the order is a criminal offence which could result in imprisonment for up to three months. Partial closure orders can be for up to three months and can be extended after this time, with evidence, for another three months.
Residents can report anti-social behaviour to Safer Merton on email@example.com
Merton Council’s adult learning service has been given a set of Good marks by Ofsted inspectors.
Merton Adult Learning offers a range of community courses, as well as opportunities to study for qualifications and specific programmes for people with learning difficulties or disabilities.
In their report, published today, Ofsted wrote that tutors are experienced, knowledgeable and well-qualified in their subjects and have high expectations for their learners. They noted that tutors create a nurturing culture for those they are teaching, who arrive on time, ready to learn and keenly take part in their classes.
The report said: “Learners gain a range of benefits from their courses. They enjoy the subjects they study. Those facing social isolation build their self-confidence and form new friendships while they study. Learners are taught valuable skills that help increase their self-esteem and play a more active role in the community.”
Following their four-day inspection in October, the inspectors also praised high quality community venues, attendance rates and the well-planned curriculum.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Education, Councillor Eleanor Stringer, said: “Our adult learning service reaches over 2,000 adults, including people with learning disabilities and those studying for English and Maths GCSEs, as well as those who just want to learn new skills. Ofsted’s inspection judgement that Merton Adult Learning is a Good service reflects the hard work of tutors and learners from across the borough.
“Education should be a lifelong activity. It can be a big step for many adults to decide to return to education but learning a new skill or taking up a hobby as a adult can benefit learners in a range of ways, from developing their employment prospects to becoming more independent and making new friends.”
Merton Adult Learning is currently enrolling for courses starting in January. Find out more on their website.
‘Tis the season to enjoy buying special gifts and treats, but shoppers do need to be vigilant to make sure they don’t get ripped off by scammers.
The sad reality is that scams online, via the telephone and face-to-face are on the increase, and everyone is a potential victim. As people embrace the Christmas spirit of giving, and shopping becomes squeezed into increasingly hectic schedules they can become more vulnerable to scams.
Does it sound too good to be true?
Merton Trading Standards are warning residents to be on their guard against telephone scams, online swindlers, rogue doorstep traders, dodgy street sellers, bogus charities and even scams with delivery companies. A key message is ‘that if a deal sounds too good to be true – then it probably is.’
Get-togethers over the festive period provide a wonderful chance for people to spread the word on scam avoidance, to help protect elderly or vulnerable family members, friends or neighbours.
When buying presents and Christmas treats for your friends and loved ones Merton Trading Standards advise getting online savvy, being wary of street traders and say ‘no’ to door- knockers peddling cheap, potentially dangerous goods which don’t comply with safety standards.
Christmas is the time for giving to charities but do double-check who you’re giving your cash to and what you’re signing, if asked to make donations by direct debit. Be wary of vague statements on collection tins such as ‘donations to poor children.’
Watch out for unusual delivery slips being put through the door, asking you to ring a premium rate numbers for you to reschedule deliveries. Be wary of people delivering presents and asking for a small delivery charge to be paid for with a card – this only might be for a £1 but scammers can go on to use the card later.
Telephone scams – stop and think
Currently there is a spike in the number of telephones scams and Merton Trading Standards are advising residents to stop and think before responding for callers claiming to be from their bank or the police. Never give any details on your bank account to such callers.
- Never, ever give any details on your bank over the telephone. If concerned call your bank by using the number on the back of your bank card. However do make sure the line is clear first by using your mobile to ring the land line or by ringing a friend first. This step ensures the telephone line is clear and you won’t still be talking to the scammers!
Remember – Your bank or police would never:
- Ask you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons, even if they say it is in your name.
- Phone you to ask for your 4-digit card PIN or your online banking password, even by tapping them into the telephone keypad.
- Ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safe-keeping.
- Send someone to your home to collect your cash, PIN, payment card or cheque book if you are a victim of fraud.
- Ask you to purchase goods using your card and then hand them over for safe-keeping
Protect yourself online – stop and think
- Check out who you are buying items from online. Will you be able to find the company again? Just because it says co.uk doesn’t mean the company is based in the UK. Look for a company’s geographical address, and search online to see if any problems have been highlighted by shoppers. Use a protected method of payment such as Paypal or a credit card and don’t use public Wifi to make purchases.
- Avoid free online trials offering to kick start your New Year resolutions, with deals such as those helping with weight loss. Many ask for bank details for delivery costs and conceal a contract in the small print. Scammers use these hidden contracts to regularly take cash from their victim’s account.
- Never give out any information to callers claiming to be from your energy providers asking for your bank details, because you are due to a refund. If in doubt ring the company yourself using the number on your bill.
Merton Trading Standards regularly hold talks on scams at venues across the borough, which all residents are invited to attend. Groups can also ask officers to give a talk by getting in touch via the Consumer Advice helpline, as below.
Scammers are highly professional criminals, and so it’s important that people report their activities so they can be investigated and warnings can be issued.
If you become a victim of a scam, contact Consumer Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. Report it to the police via the Action Fraud online site. For advice on fraud or cybercrime, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Merton Council is to step up action for its cleaner air campaign in the New Year by introducing new parking charges.
The new charges, which are being introduced following substantial consultations with residents, will apply to controlled parking zones, public parking zones, public car parks, on street parking and parking permits in Merton. The new parking charge structure is to be launched on Tuesday 14 January 2020.
The initiative aims to discourage the reliance on car use to reduce toxic pollution from vehicles, and to help residents enjoy the health benefits of taking more journeys by bike, on foot and by public transport.
Merton, is designated an air quality management area and so action must be taken to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide, of which around 60 per cent comes from vehicle emissions. Thousands of Londoners die a premature death, each year from the toxic fumes from vehicles, which can particularly impact negatively on children’s health.
In July, the council unanimously agreed to step up its commitment to combating carbon emissions and rising temperatures by declaring a Climate Change Emergency. Under the declaration the council pledged to achieve carbon neutrality for the whole of Merton by 2050 and to make every effort for the council to be a carbon neutral organisation by 2030.
The council has already introduced a host of measures to encourage residents to use more sustainable modes of transport. This has included the creation of six kilometres of new cycle routes and 651 more cycle parking spaces over the last six years. More than 100 electric vehicle charging points have been installed across the borough, so far.
However, currently in Merton, 42% of journeys are made by car, compared to 30% on foot, 3% by bike and 24% on public transport. Nearly two thirds of respondents to a recent public consultation agreed that the council should encourage motorists to use more sustainable forms of transport.
Availability to public transport was a key criteria the council used to decide how to divide the borough into parking charges zones. Places with fewer transport options will have lower parking charges than those which enjoy ample public transport links.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and the Environment, Councillor Tobin Byers said:
“We are deeply committed to doing everything we can to improve the quality of the air we breathe in Merton, to protect the health of our residents now and for future generations. For this reason we are introducing these new parking charges for the start of the new decade. I do understand that some residents will have to pay more to park, however I know many residents do want us to take all the action we can to reduce toxic air in Merton as a matter of urgency. Our new parking charges structure is just one element of our work in this area.”
“Merton is unique in London to have rail, tube, bus and tram links and so we do think it is appropriate to encourage residents to access more of these forms of transport and cut down on their car use.”
Income from parking charges can only be spent on parking service and transport projects. Cash raised also goes towards the Freedom Pass – London’s concessionary travel scheme. Merton has spent around £27million on the Freedom Pass during the last three years.
Notices of the new parking charge structure will be displayed on all streets involved
Merton Council’s public consultation on its parking changes was held between 29 March and 5 May 2019. The results and a record of how the decision was made can be found on the parking web page. Visit www.merton.gov.uk/parkingcharges2020
Merton Council has been ranked joint second in London, and among the top authorities across the country by Friends of the Earth for its climate change action. For information on how everyone can get involved visit www.merton.gov.uk/climatechange.
Merton has declared the general election results for the two constituencies in the borough.
Siobhan McDonagh was elected MP for the Mitcham and Morden constituency for the Labour party.
Stephen Hammond, representing the Conservative Party, was elected MP for the Wimbledon constituency.
The Mitcham and Morden result was announced at 3am and the Wimbledon result was declared 45 minutes later.
These show Siobhan McDonagh received 61% of the total 45,845 votes.
Stephen Hammond received 38% of the total 53,265 votes.
The turnout for Mitcham and Morden was 65%. For Wimbledon, the turnout was 78%.
For a full list of results for the Mitcham and Morden and Wimbledon constituencies, visit:
We have been made aware that posters with political messages have been illegally displayed close to polling stations.
Our enforcement officers have been carrying out inspections across the borough, and taking urgent action to remove posters which have been put up on roads and publicly-owned land.
Fly-posting is a criminal offence and perpetrators face fines of many thousands of pounds. We will seek to prosecute the perpetrators.
If you see any political signs which are illegally posted along roads or on public land, please report it to us by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
A brand new bus route is being introduced to ensure that residents around the Ravensbury area keep their link to Morden Tube Station while the 118 route is on diversion. The new 718 route will run between Morden Station and Rose Hill Roundabout via London Road, Morden Road, Wandle Road and Bishopsford Road from Saturday 30 November.
The new route has been created by Merton Council and Transport for London (TfL) to minimise travel disruption while repairs are made to the Bishopsford Road Bridge. The seven-day-a-week service will run every 30 minutes (every 35 minutes during weekday peak times) starting at 5am, with the last service departing at 0.30am. Buses will stop at all route 118 bus stops between Morden Tube Station and Wandle Road and all route 280 bus stops between Wandle Road and Rose Hill Roundabout. More information on the route can be found on the TfL website.
As well as stabilising and assessing the structural condition of the bridge, the Council has been working to ensure that flood risk is managed throughout the works and for the permanent future design option. Independent advisory reports have been commissioned, which will include design options for the repair or replacement of Bishopsford Road Bridge. A timescale for the construction programme and for the road to reopen will follow the completion of these reports in the New Year.
Merton Council’s Director of Environment and Regeneration, Chris Lee, said: “This new bus route is welcome news, and I’m delighted that together with TfL we’ve been able to maintain strong public transport links around the Ravensbury area.
“We know that residents are concerned about how the work at Bishopsford Road Bridge may affect their day-to-day lives, and we are taking every possible step to minimise any disruption. It’s also very important that we manage flood risk during the works and in the future, that’s why we’re working in consultation with the Environment Agency about the future permanent design solution.”
Another landlord has been successfully prosecuted by Merton Council – the third in the last four months for breaches of the Housing Act 2004.
Ronak Patel has been ordered to pay nearly £5k at Lavender Hill Magistrates, for operating a flat illegally in multiple occupancy (HMO) and for flouting the health and safety laws designed to protect the lives of tenants.
Mr Patel, from Upper Green East in Micham pleaded guilty to failing to apply for a licence to run a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) at the court on Tuesday 5 November. He also pleaded guilty to breaches in rules for fire safety and the maintenance of the shared areas of the property.
The 41-year-old faced the charges in relation to a first floor flat above a commercial premises in Upper Green East, Mitcham.
An investigation by Merton Council’s Housing Enforcement Officers, in March this year, found there was seven unrelated tenants at the flat. Under the law properties with more than five unrelated tenants, sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities, must be licensed as HMO.
The officers also discovered the flat had no fire alarms or fire protected exits in breach of fire safety regulations. The inspection also found that the shared areas in the flat, including the kitchen, bathroom and balcony, were badly maintained and failed to comply with regulations for HMOs.
Director of Community and Housing, Hannah Doody, said: “This is another great result and I hope our success in securing prosecutions, leading to hefty fines will serve as warning to any rogue landlords who breach the regulations for HMOs in Merton.
“We take extremely seriously the failure of landlords to licence a HMO, and will not hesitate to take stringent action, as the licensing regulations are there to protect the lives of residents.
“We will not tolerate rogue landlords who seek to profiteer from cramming as many tenants as possible into properties with inadequate or dangerous conditions.
“We are on a mission to drive up standards for private accommodation across Merton and so we will be continuing to crack down heavily on landlords who flout the laws.
“We have many good landlords in Merton who are providing decent living conditions for renters. But we are urging anyone who suspects a landlord of not adhering to the rules to report this to us and will investigate.”
Mr Patel was ordered to pay a fine of £2694.00, plus £1994 in costs and a victim surcharge of £170.00.
Notes for editors:
This is the third prosecution of a rogue landlord by Merton Council for breaches of the Housing Act 2004, in the last three months.
A retired GP, who failed to obtain an HMO licence for a house in Colliers Wood, despite having up to nine tenants, was ordered to pay £4,613 at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court on Friday 25 October.
A landlord, who had failed to obtain an HMO licence for a house in Mitcham was ordered to pay nearly £4,000 at the same court on Tuesday 6 August.
Since last October, under the updated rules of the Housing Act 2004, homes with more than five unrelated tenants sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities must be registered. Previously the requirement for an HMO licence only applied to houses of three storeys or more.
The failure to register an HMO is a serious offence which can result in an unlimited fine