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Holocaust survivor to speak at Merton commemoration

17 January, 2020 - 16:00

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 

ENDS

Categories: News from elsewhere

Raynes Park High School recognised for work with students with autism

13 January, 2020 - 12:11

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”

ENDS

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Council fights on to save vital services at St Helier Hospital

7 January, 2020 - 15:54

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 hello@improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk or call 020 3880 0271.

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Young Harry Potter enthusiast makes rare find on Wimbledon Library book shelves

3 January, 2020 - 16:24

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.”

ENDS

Notes to editor

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

Head of libraries receives New Year Honour from the Queen

28 December, 2019 - 08:50

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.

Categories: News from elsewhere

New drop-in opens in Merton to keep rough sleepers warm during the day.

24 December, 2019 - 12:13

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.

 

 

 

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton Council secures a partial closure order for a Mitcham flat

23 December, 2019 - 11:04

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 asbu@merton.gov.uk

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton Adult Learning rated Good by Ofsted

18 December, 2019 - 15:20

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.

Read the full Ofsted report.

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Don’t let swindlers take the shine off your Christmas – stop and think.

16 December, 2019 - 15:27

‘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.

 

 

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

New parking charges for a new decade set to reduce pollution in Merton.

16 December, 2019 - 10:13

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.

Editors notes:

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.

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General election results for Merton

13 December, 2019 - 04:09

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:

www.merton.gov.uk/electionresults

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Illegal political signs by Polling Stations

12 December, 2019 - 12:24

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: waste.enforcement@merton.gov.uk

 

 

 

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

New bus route keeps Ravensbury connected

25 November, 2019 - 12:00
The new 718 route will run every 30 minutes.

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 a​nd 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.”

ENDS

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Another landlord successfully prosecuted by Merton Council

8 November, 2019 - 13:11

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.

ENDS

 

 

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

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

Another rogue landlord successfully prosecuted and ordered to pay £7k for flouting health and safety laws for rented homes.

25 October, 2019 - 17:24

A retired GP who operated an illegal house in multiple occupancy, with up to nine tenants, has been ordered to pay more than £6,700.

Merton Council has successfully prosecuted another rogue landlord, for flouting the law which protects the health and safety of private tenants.

Dr Mohammad Abdus Samad, from Forest Road, Sutton, pleaded guilty to failing to register a house in multiple occupancy (HMO) and four other related charges, at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court in Battersea on Friday 25 October.

The 75-year-old faced the charges in relation to a two-storey property he owns in Clive Road, Colliers Wood. The semi-detached home, with four upstairs bedrooms and three reception rooms on the ground floor converted to bedrooms, housed up to nine tenants.

An investigation by Merton Council’s Housing Enforcement Officers, in March this year, revealed there were more than five unrelated tenants at the property sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities, so the property should have been licensed as HMO.

The inspection of the house by council officers, also revealed several breaches of the rules for HMOs.  The breaches included not having fire alarms and protected fire exits as well as badly maintained and dirty conditions in shared areas, including the stairwell, kitchen and shower room.

Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton, said:  “This is a great result and I hope this strong action will serve as warning to any rogue landlords who breach houses in multiple occupancy (HMO) regulations .

“We take extremely seriously the failure of landlords to register a HMO and will not hesitate to take further action including prosecution as the licensing regulations are there to ensure properties properly comply with the fire and other safety standards designed to protect the lives of residents.

“Whilst we have many of good landlords in Merton who are providing decent living conditions, we will not hesitate to crack down on and stamp-out rogue landlords who seek to profiteer from cramming too many tenants into badly managed properties, potentially putting their lives as risk. I would strongly encourage tenants or neighbours who suspect a landlord is not adhering to the rules to report it to the council.”

Dr Samad was handed a fine of £4,613 for the breaches of the Housing Act 2004, and was ordered to pick up the council’s bill for costs which was £1997.50 in addition to a victim surcharge of £170.

The court heard that council officers had first advised Dr Samad that he needed to register his property in Clive Road, in September 2018 to comply with updated rules of the Housing Act.

This is the second prosecution of a rogue landlord by Merton Council in the last three months. A landlord, who had failed to obtain an HMO licence for a house in Mitcham was ordered to pay nearly £4,000 at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court in Battersea on Tuesday 6 August.  ENDS

 

Notes for editors:

 Since last October, under the updated rules of the Housing Act 2004, all 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

 

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

Concern rises as more than half of Merton’s EU residents have yet to be given the right to stay after Brexit

14 October, 2019 - 13:23

‘Don’t lose your right to stay’ is the message Merton Council wants to get out to its European Union residents, amidst concern that more than half are yet to apply to stay after Brexit and around a third of those that have applied nationally are being refused a full right to remain.  

The council is urging all residents from European Union countries who want to stay in the country if it leaves the EU, 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.

The latest official figures, from the Government’s quarterly statistics up until June this year, reveal that of the 25,000 EU citizens living in Merton less than half have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). As many of them carry out important jobs that benefit the borough’s economy, or have close personal relationships with British citizens living in the borough, the council is concerned about the impact on the local community if they are not given full status. The council is also concerned about the number of applicants nationally who are being refused full status and being given only the reduced pre-settled status instead.

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 either Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth or South West London Law Centres.

The council is also flagging up that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal the government have said the deadline for applying to EU Settlement Scheme will be brought forward to 31 December 2020.

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Mark Allison, said: “We consider that everyone who lives in Merton is helping to make it a great place for families. We’re concerned that our European friends, neighbours and family members in Merton are not getting the Settled Status their work in our community deserves.

“We do not want our community broken up, and are urging all residents who want to remain living here to apply as soon as possible. If they miss the deadline and Brexit takes place they may no longer be able to legally live here and contribute to our great community.

“We understand there are already some delays at the Home Office for more complex cases and are very concerned about applications being turned down or given the incorrect status.

“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.”

 

For more information:

Visit : www.merton.gov.uk/brexit

For access help and advice contact Citizens Advice Merton by emailing  eusettlement@caml.org.uk or calling 020 8687 9297

Gov.uk/eusettledstatus

 

 

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

The EU Settlement Scheme quarterly statistics show up until June the number of EU nationals from Merton who made applications was 8,000.

There is no fee for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme

Residents who are EU, EEA or Swiss citizens can apply to the EUSS to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.

The government have said the deadline for applying to the EU Settlement Scheme will be 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

 

 

Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton Council revealed as joint second in ‘Climate-friendly’ London borough ranking

7 October, 2019 - 16:15

Merton Council is proud to be ranked joint second in London and among the top authorities across the country by Friends of the Earth for its climate change action, but recognises much more work must be done to avert a climate catastrophe.

New research by the global environment group, to chart the most climate-friendly areas in the country, gave Merton a performance rating of 80 per cent for work in response to the climate change emergency.  Friends of the Earth assessed all councils in a number of categories including renewable energy, public transport, lift sharing, energy efficiency, waste recycling and tree cover.

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.

Councillor Byers, the Cabinet Member responsible for the environment, said: “We’re delighted our work so far on climate change has been recognised by such a leading environmental organisation. However, we completely accept that we urgently need to ramp-up our efforts to help avert a catastrophe from extreme weather conditions. We’re taking action, but we can’t change things on our own.

“We’ve had a fantastic response from the community to our climate change emergency declaration, and many highly committed people with a vast amount of professional expertise have now come forward to be in our Climate Action Working Group. The group is now working on a plan to help us to meet our ambitious targets.

“Our climate change work for future generations also aims to make the borough a cleaner, greener and healthier place for our residents to enjoy now.  Like Friends of the Earth, we also recognise, that while councils and communities working together play a vital role, we do need the Government to take bolder steps to ensure the whole country is carbon neutral by 2050.”

Merton Council has a long history of taking action to improve air quality and encouraging healthier lifestyles, dating back to the development of the Merton Rule in 2003.  The council’s recent strategy, which has been in place since 2014, has already made a positive impact on reducing carbon emissions. Since 2009, the council, as an organisation, has cut harmful emissions from its work by 35 per cent.

The council is already taking a number of measures to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging residents to make more journeys by bike, foot or public transport. This has included the creation of including six kilometres of new cycle routes and 651 more cycle parking spaces over the last six years. In September, Merton Council hosted a Car Free Event in Morden and supported Play Street events across the borough by waiving the fee for road closures.

Work to support the switch towards more sustainable fuels includes the ongoing installation of charging points for electric-powered vehicles.  Merton, which currently has 101 publicly accessible electric fast chargers operating, with another 36 expected to be installed by the end of 2019, is among the top boroughs in London for this expansion. Ongoing projects to help clean up the air includes action to ensure drivers turn off their engines while waiting outside schools.

The key areas of for action moving forward are set to be switching to low carbon energy sources in buildings, reducing car journeys, encouraging the use of electric vehicles, the consumption of sustainable products, green investment and the creation of green spaces across the borough.

Join us to tackle climate change and improve air quality, stay updated on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. For more information on how everyone can get involved visit the  www.merton.gov.uk/climatechange.

 

 

Notes: Friends of the Earth sourced data by local authority area on a range of issues relevant to climate change to assess how councils are performing: https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/download/league-table-local-authority-performance-climate-change

The majority of data is from official government sources. To see the full methodology, go to: https://takeclimateaction.uk/climate-action/methodology-local-authority-data-project

 

Categories: News from elsewhere