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Pupils and their teachers celebrate GCSE results

22 August, 2019 - 18:05

Pupils and their teachers at schools across the borough were celebrating their GCSE results today.

72.8% of Merton pupils have achieved grades 9 – 4 (9 being the highest and 4 a standard pass) in both English and maths.

Schools across Merton achieved an impressive set of results in core subjects:

  • At Raynes Park High School, 60.3% of pupils achieved grades 9-4 in both English and maths.
  • At Ricards Lodge High School, 76% of pupils achieved grades 9 – 4 in both English and maths. This is an increase of nearly 11% compared to 2018.
  • 74% of pupils at Rutlish School achieved grades 9 – 4 in both English and maths. This is an increase of nearly 4% compared to last year.
  • At St Mark’s Academy, the pass rate for English and maths grades 9-4 is 52.6%.
  • At Ursuline High School, 82% of pupils achieved grades 9 – 4 in both English and maths.
  • At Wimbledon College, 80% of pupils achieved grades 9 – 4 in both English and maths. This is an increase of nearly 4% compared to last year.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools, Councillor Eleanor Stringer, who visited Ricards Lodge High School in Wimbledon, said: “It was a privilege to be invited to see pupils finding out their GCSE results and congratulate them on all their hard work. It reminded me of when I received my GCSE results and the excitement of looking forward to the future. I wish them luck whatever their next steps, particularly those staying on at our excellent post-16 provision in Merton.

“I also enjoyed meeting some of the dedicated teaching staff, whose hard work has helped to ensure that all our secondary schools have been rated as Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.”

Notes to editors

This data does not include results for the Harris Academy schools in the borough.

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Students celebrate success in their A Level results

15 August, 2019 - 17:01

The A level results are out and thousands of students and their teachers across Merton are celebrating today.

Secondary schools in Merton have continued to perform very well during a year when, nationally, the proportion of students achieving the highest grades at A level has decreased.

More than three quarters (77.5%) of Merton students achieved A*-C grades, which is above the national average of 75.8%.

Schools across the borough achieved an impressive set of results:

  • At Raynes Park High School, the proportion of pupils achieving A*-B grades was up by 11% this year.
  • Students in the combined sixth form for Ricards Lodge High School and Rutlish School achieved 57% A* to B grades and 84% A* to C grades, both of which are above the national averages.
  • At Ursuline High School, the proportion of A* to B grades achieved was 58%, and for A* to C grades was 86%, both of which are above the national averages.
  • At Wimbledon College, students achieved 99% A* to E grades, above the national average.
  • At St Mark’s Academy, results at A*-A grades have improved this year by 3%.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Kelly Braund, who visited Raynes Park High School this morning, said: “Congratulations to everyone who received their A level results today, I can’t wait to see what brilliant things you all go on to do next.”

“This is a fantastic set of results for our secondary schools, all of which have been rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted. We know that families move to Merton for the education we offer and the hard work of teaching staff at our high-performing schools has shown why, as they support these young people to get the best start in life.”

Notes to editors

This data does not include results for the two Harris Academy schools in the borough.

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Rogue landlord ordered to  pay nearly £4,000 for operating unlicensed HMO

7 August, 2019 - 12:02

Merton Council has successfully prosecuted a landlord for flouting the law that protects the health and safety of private tenants.

Mr Fouad Ahmad, from Streatham pleaded guilty to failing to register a house in multiple occupancy, known as an HMO, at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court in Battersea on Tuesday 6 August.

The 48-year-old was handed a fine of  £1,965 for the breach of Section 72(1) of The Housing Act 2004  and was ordered to pick up Merton Council’s bill for costs which was £1,750 in addition to a surcharge of £196.

Following a tip off expressing concerns over a two-storey house in Beecholme Avenue in Mitcham an investigation was launched by Merton Council’s Housing Enforcement Officers.

The officers discovered that despite the fact more than five unrelated housemates were sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities at the terraced house, Mr Ahmed had not applied for an HMO licence. Mr Ahmed was prosecuted under updated terms of The Housing Act 2004 – which since last October have stipulated that all HMO’s in the borough with five or more people making up two or more households must be registered as an HMO. Previously the requirement for a HMO licence only applied to houses of three storeys or more.

Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “As a council we are determined to tackle bad landlords and we hope this case sends out a strong message that the council will take tough action on any landlord operating in an illegal way in Merton. We will not hesitate to take robust enforcement action against those breaching their responsibilities under HMO legislation especially since the important change in legislation last October.  We are also undertaking further  work on introducing a landlord licensing scheme and a paper will be coming to cabinet in September.

“Whilst most landlords across Merton  provide a good standard of accommodation for private renters and comply with legislation, there is a minority of  rogue landlords who seek to profiteer by cramming people in sub-standard homes, provide inadequate facilities or who breach safety standards. We will proactively investigate suspected breaches of the law which protects tenants and will not hesitate to prosecute or issue penalties against offenders.”

“Not registering a HMO is a very serious offence, as if the property is not properly managed the safety of tenants is at risk. I would strongly encourage tenants or neighbours who suspect a landlord is not adhering to the rules to report it to the council.”

 

 

NOTES TO EDITOR

Mr Fouad Ahmad, Hoadley Road in Streatham

d.o.b 18.01.1971

 

 

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Last away season for AFC Wimbledon

2 August, 2019 - 13:26

As the new football season kicks off on Saturday, the Leader of Merton Council is looking forward to welcoming AFC Wimbledon home to their brand new stadium next year.

Preliminary construction work has already begun on the stadium in Plough Lane, Wimbledon, with a capacity of 9,000 which can be expanded to 20,000 by creating a bowl-shaped arena. The new stadium will be at the centre of a development including 600 much-needed homes, shops and a squash and fitness club.

While AFC Wimbledon are playing their first matches of 2019/20, the Council has teamed up with the AFC Wimbledon Foundation during the summer holidays to run sports, including football, at Phipps Bridge Youth Centre. They will also be helping to tackle food poverty by organising cooking classes for families and serving nutritious lunches to children during the school break.

Cllr Alambritis said: “It has always been our goal to bring AFC Wimbledon home to Plough Lane and we are delighted that this is the last season that fans will have to travel out of the borough for home games as well as away matches.

“As well as cheering AFC Wimbledon on this summer, young footballers will have the chance to practice their skills on the pitch with the AFC Wimbledon Foundation. The foundation are also helping to tackle food poverty by ensuring that some of the most deprived children in the borough can tuck into healthy lunches during the school holidays.”

Notes to editors

  1. Representatives from AFC Wimbledon, Merton Council and GRA Acquisitions Limited sign the Section 106 agreement on 13 December 2017.
  2. Merton Council’s planning committee unanimously approved AFC Wimbledon’s and Galliard’s application to build a new stadium on 10 December 2015.
  3. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan formally handed back to Merton Council the powers to progress AFC Wimbledon’s application for the football stadium in August 2016.
  4. Dons Trust, The Wider Interests of Football Limited is the company which owns AFC Wimbledon. It is, in turn, owned by fans of the Club.
  5. Merton Catalyst LLP is a joint venture between Galliard Homes and Catalyst Developments [Wimbledon] Ltd.
  6. On Monday 24 December Merton Catalyst LLP (the joint venture of Galliard Homes and Catalyst Developments [Wimbledon] Ltd) officially transferred ownership of the land on which the stadium will be built to a subsidiary of the Dons Trust, The Wider Interests of Football Limited, meaning AFC Wimbledon began 2019 as owners of the freehold to that land.
  7. The League One club is currently based in Kingsmeadow in Kingston.
  8. Find out more information about the stadium development here  www.ploughlanestadium.co.uk

 

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Council Leader vows to “fight” for St Helier Hospital to retain its full suite of services

31 July, 2019 - 08:50

The Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, has vowed to continue to “fight” for St Helier Hospital to retain all its services.

Cllr Alambritis has voiced his concern for the future of the hospital following the submission of the Improving Healthcare Together 2020-2030 draft pre-consultation Business Case to NHS England for Assurance. The document, which has not been published by the NHS, ranks three options for the future of the Trust, with downgrading both St Helier and Epsom Hospitals and building a new hospital in Sutton coming out on top.

Cllr Alambritis said: “We have a long-standing commitment to ensure that residents of Merton have access to a full range of NHS acute services on the St Helier Hospital site, including a blue light A&E and consultant-led maternity service.

“We could not be clearer in our opposition to any closure or downgrade of services at St Helier Hospital. I’m extremely disappointed that the Trust and the CCG appear to prefer an option that would remove essential services at St Helier. This is despite the overwhelming evidence of local need, and the clear opposing voice of Merton’s residents through the various engagement processes undertaken to date.”

The Leader expressed concern about the impact on communities around the existing St Helier Hospital site. He said: “Attempts to relocate acute services away from St Helier in favour of a more affluent area, such as Belmont or the Royal Marsden site, would be incompatible with the statutory duty on the Clinical Commissioning Group, which is about tackling health inequalities. Accessing acute health services will be significantly more difficult for our residents who suffer the greatest level of inequality. In addition, the potential increase in demand for other providers, particularly for St George’s in Tooting, as a result of any downgrade of provision at St Helier Hospital, is of great concern, as a lot of Merton residents rely on that hospital too. We will continue to do all we can to fight for St Helier Hospital to retain its full suite of services and to get the investment it needs.”

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Reclaim your street and let children play on Car Free Day

26 July, 2019 - 12:10

Merton Council is actively encouraging residents to hold Play Street events and street parties to celebrate World Car Free Day by waiving the fees for temporary street closures.

Residents are urged to apply now to get their road closed to traffic on Sunday 22 September so children can enjoy playing safely in the street and everyone can benefit from the cleaner air.

Play Streets events can be organised by groups of neighbours who agree to close their streets temporarily, for through traffic, to create community play areas.

The temporary road closures also provide a wonderful opportunity for people to get together and help reduce the amount of pollution across the borough.

Merton Council is backing Car Free Day, which aims to liberate the streets from the dominance of vehicles, as part of its ongoing drive to make the borough a cleaner, greener place, and encourage more active lifestyles.

The day flags up the dangers of toxic air from vehicles and encourages everyone to ditch the car and enjoy walking, cycling or public transport to get around instead.

To support residents taking part the Council is waiving the fees for road closures for Play Street events and street parties and is providing support and advice for organisers.

Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and the Environment Councillor Tobin Byers, said:  “I am delighted that Merton is taking part in Car Free Day as it is a great chance to liberate the streets from the dominance of cars and other vehicles. We are keen to support residents hosting Play Street events as they provide a wonderful opportunity for children to have fun getting active in cleaner air and for neighbours to come together and enjoy themselves.”

“We want as many children as possible across Merton to take over the streets and play freely and safely. We hope people will enjoy seeing their street being transformed into community fun space so much they will go on to make these special moments regular events.”

The Council is highlighting that people should still be able to get to their homes by car, during the temporary road closures, as usually residents act as wardens to allow their neighbours to access the street.

Residents have until Friday 30 August to make applications. For advice and support on making applications and organising Play Street events  visit www.merton.gov.uk/playstreets

 

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£1m funding awarded for Merton community projects

17 July, 2019 - 11:55

Merton Council’s cabinet has agreed to fund 14 projects across the borough, totalling nearly £1 million.

The funding for the projects is from Merton Council’s Neighbourhood Fund – which comes from the charges the council makes to developers to help fund the infrastructure or community facilities, needed to support new homes and businesses in the borough.

A key component of awarding funding was ensuring that projects will contribute to Merton’s community plans and priorities. More than £405,000 of funding has been earmarked for projects that help address income, health, and skills gaps between the east and west of the borough.

A number of ‘bridging the gap’ projects have had funding agreed. These include Supporting Commonside Community Development Trust’s projects for residents on the Pollards Hill estate and in east Mitcham; a Children School and Families Employability Programme to increase access to the labour market for youngsters; façade improvements to the Bramcote Avenue shopping parade in Mitcham; and the Move More Mitcham project to support those at risk of developing a mental health disorder.

A number of projects will also help support the demands that Wimbledon Stadium development in Plough Lane will place on the borough, including renovation the facades of the Haydon Road shopping parade, and the improvements to Haydon’s Road recreation grounds.

Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton, said:  “We received many bids for funding in this round from residents, businesses and community groups, and we would like to thank everyone for their submissions. Our decisions were made taking into account our community plan priorities, which includes ‘bridging the gap’, and we believe they will make a substantial difference to our neighbourhoods along with the lives of residents.

Our popular and successful shopping parade improvement scheme will also help restore attractiveness and vibrancy to some of the borough’s most neglected parades as well as boost trade and employment opportunities.”

 

The 14 projects to be awarded CIL Neighbourhood Funding in 2019/20

  • Supporting Commonside Community Development Trust £130,000
  • Merton Priority Chapter House performance space £46,430.
  • Merton Park Green Walks – new surface on footpath £13,000.
  • Revitalisation of Haydon’s Road Recreation grounds £32,500
  • Signage for South Mitcham Community Centre £1,500
  • Deen City Farm £40,435
  • Shopping Parade façade improvements £274,000
  • Shopping Parades programme management (3 years) £165,000
  • Polka Theatre redevelopment £95,000
  • Employability Programme £60,904
  • Air pollution mitigation campaign – encouraging pupil involvement in STARS schools accreditation scheme £27,233
  • Move More Mitcham £27,820
  • Sustainable Merton Neighbourhood Champions £30,000
  • The Library of Things £37,320 to develop an equipment borrowing scheme

 

Notes for editors:

  • On 15th July Merton’s Cabinet awarded 14 projects a total of £981,142 from its Community Infrastructure Levy(CIL) Neighbourhood Fund. Link to Merton Cabinet agenda and reports https://democracy.merton.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=146&MId=3396&Ver=4
  • The projects were selected from the borough-wide consultation feedback following a six week consultation in the Spring.
  • Since 2014 the council has collected more than £3 million to for CIL Neighbourhood Fund projects in Merton of which £1.9 million has been approved / spent in previous years.
  • Link to Merton’s CIL website  https://www.merton.gov.uk/planning-and-buildings/planning/community-infrastructure-levy/spending-the-levy including Neighbourhood Fund assessment criteria
  • Under the national rules CIL cash must be spent on local projects which support the demands new developments bring and meet the needs of neighbourhoods.  The council also assessed each bid, with its agreed criteria, to ensure projects will contribute to its community plans and priorities

 

 

 

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Council acts to improve air quality and public health by driving down car use

15 July, 2019 - 20:18

Merton Council’s Cabinet has agreed to take action to improve air quality and encourage more active and healthier lifestyles in the borough by encouraging people to make more journeys by bike and on foot.

To support people to change their behaviour, the council is introducing a new parking charges system. The new charges will apply to controlled parking zones, public car parks, on street parking and parking permits in Merton, which has been designated as an air quality management area. This means more must be done to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide. Nearly two thirds of this main pollutant is emitted from vehicles and pollution levels are highest in town centres across the borough. Breathing in polluted air affects the brain as well as the lungs and is worse for older people and for children.

To help reduce air pollution and encourage people to be more active and lead healthier lives, the council has already introduced a variety of walking and cycling initiatives, including six kilometres of new cycle routes and 651 more cycle parking spaces over the last six years. So far, 101 electric vehicle charging points have been installed across the borough, with an additional 36 planned by the end of the year. There are also car clubs in the borough, which give drivers access to cars without the cost or responsibility of owning one.

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 (60%) of respondents to a public consultation about public health, air quality and parking charges agreed that the council should encourage motorists towards more active and sustainable modes of transport.

Proximity to public transport was one of the key criteria the council used to determine how to divide the borough into parking charges zones. Places with fewer connections will have lower parking charges than places which have plenty of public transport links. The boundaries of some of these zones have been changed, following the public consultation earlier this year, which received around 3,000 responses.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and the Environment, Councillor Tobin Byers said: “The council recognises its role to improve air quality by reducing demand for parking and cutting congestion by driving down car use. We also want to improve public health by making the healthy choice the easy choice – encouraging residents to make more journeys on foot or bike, rather than by car.”

He added: “Encouraging people to travel more sustainably is just one of a number of actions the council is taking to address air quality across the borough. Our Air Quality Action Plan – adopted in 2018 – included some 70 recommendations, and progress is being made on them all. We are committed to improving the quality or the air we breathe across the borough, and our new parking charges structure is just one element of that.”

The new parking charges are set to come into force during the autumn.

Income from parking charges can only be spent on running the parking service and transport projects, including filling in potholes, resurfacing borough roads and new cycling schemes. It 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.

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Merton Council declares a Climate Change Emergency

10 July, 2019 - 22:27

Merton Council has stepped up its commitment to combating carbon emissions and rising temperatures, by declaring a Climate Change Emergency.

From left: Merton Conservatives Leader Councillor Nick McLean, Merton Council Leader Councillor Stephen Alambritis, Merton Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Anthony Fairclough and Merton Park Ward Independent Residents Group Leader Councillor Peter Southgate

The cross-party motion, signed by the four Group leaders and moved by Councillor Tobin Byers, Merton Council’s cabinet member responsible for health and the environment,  was passed unanimously at the Council meeting on Wednesday 10 July. It called on the Council to declare a climate emergency and to develop an action in conjunction with businesses and residents to decarbonise the borough.

The council has committed to take a leadership role and join forces with the community to achieve carbon neutrality for the whole of Merton by 2050. The target is in line with advice given by the Government’s Committee on Climate Change and the Mayor of London’s ambitions.

Under the declaration the council has also pledged to make every effort to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2030. The council’s actions will involve work to reduce and decarbonise the energy used in all its 340 buildings, transport and contracted out services. Merton council has been working to reduce its emissions for some time, cutting them by 35 per cent since 2009 and the motion will build upon this work.

Residents, businesses and organisations are being urged to give their views on the priorities for the council’s climate change work and volunteer to be in the council’s Climate Emergency Working Group, which is to be formed. The group is to advise on the development of the council’s Climate Change Action Plan. The key areas of action 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.

The declaration also recognises that the Government needs to take bolder steps to ensure the country can be carbon neutral by 2050, to protect the planet for future generations.

The cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and the Environment Councillor Byers, said: “The evidence on the impact of global warming is now undeniable. The scale of the challenge is unprecedented. I am delighted that the motion was supported by all four parties and was passed unanimously . We know climate change will impact negatively on the well-being of residents and the local economy. We must take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions, to keep the temperature rise below 1.5 degrees centigrade, if we want to avoid the worst case scenarios extreme weather will bring.”

The council is already taking a number of measures to reduce carbon emissions from car journeys. Measures have included encouraging residents to enjoy making more sustainable trips by foot, bicycle or public transport and the ongoing installation of charge 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 include to help clean up the air includes action to ensure drivers turn off their engines while waiting outside schools.

Cllr Byers, said: “Merton Council has a long history of taking action on climate change, dating back to the development of the Merton Rule in 2003. Our most recent strategy, which has been in place since 2014, has already made a positive impact at reducing carbon emissions. However it is now imperative that this work is now stepped up and an action plan to meet the challenges we face is created.”

“The council has the responsibility to take a leadership role in tackling climate changes. However,  as 97.5% of emissions within the borough come from the buildings we work in and the vehicles we drive, the majority of which are outside  our direct control, everyone has an important role to play. This is why we are setting up a working group which will actively involve residents and businesses.”

A Climate Change Emergency action plan is to be developed and presented to the council in early 2020. The council is set to launch an online survey and undertake engagement with residents.

For more information on how everyone can get involved visit the  www.merton.gov.uk/climatechange

 

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report, last October, on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C. The report warned that the risk of catastrophic climate change including extreme heat, drought, flooding and climate-related poverty would significantly increase unless global warming could be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C. The report noted global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 unless urgent and unprecedented action is taken.

 

 

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Merton to celebrate Armed Forces Day

21 June, 2019 - 16:05

Merton Council is inviting all residents to show their appreciation of the Armed Forces community by supporting events to celebrate Armed Forces Day.

The Armed Forces Day Parade on Saturday 29 June is to assemble at 9.15 am in Abbotsbury Road, Morden where it will be inspected by The Mayor of Merton, Councillor Janice Howard, and the Queen’s Representative Deputy Lieutenant, Clare Whelan OBE.

A short ceremony will be held outside Merton Civic Centre, in London Road Morden at 9.45am which will be followed by the raising of the Armed Forces Day flag.

Led by the The 151 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps from the Army Reserve Centre in Stonecot Hill, the parade is due to set off from Abbotsbury Road at 10am.  The parade is to pass by the Civic Centre on its way to the bandstand in Morden Park, where there is to be some short speeches given by the guest dignitaries.

There is to be a host of attractions in the park for people to enjoy following the ceremony, including a funfair, entertainments and refreshments.

Councillor Dennis Pearce, Chair of the Armed Forces Day Steering Group, said:  “Our event is being held to recognise and celebrate the greatly valued contribution made by the Armed Forces community – including currently serving troops, Service families, veterans, reservists and cadets.

I would encourage all residents to join us in showing our appreciation and help give a morale boost to all personnel and their families who are serving to keep our country safe. Residents are invited to both join in the parade and watch from the side-lines.”

The route will be clearly marked and there will be some road closures in place.

 

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Cannon Hill by-election results

21 June, 2019 - 00:28

Jenifer Gould from the Liberal Democrat Party has been elected Cannon Hill’s new ward councillor with 35% of the vote.

A by-election was called in Cannon Hill Ward following the resignation of Councillor Mark Kenny, who represented the Labour Party.

The full breakdown of votes is:

Ryan Barnett, Labour Party (875 votes)

Jenifer Gould, Liberal Democrat (1060 votes)

Andrew Mills, UK Independence Party (68 votes)

Susie O’Connor, Green Party (158 votes)

Michael Paterson, Conservative Party (867 votes)

 

The turnout was 42 per cent.

 

 

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Council Leader praises emergency response after bridge partially collapses in Mitcham

17 June, 2019 - 17:27

The Leader of Merton Council has praised the response from the council and its partners after a bridge partially collapsed in Mitcham.

On Friday night, the bridge, on the A217 Bishopsford Road / London Road near the junction of Riverside Drive in Mitcham, partially collapsed, causing damage to a gas pipe and water main.

Council staff arrived on the scene quickly and remained there around the clock, from 8pm on Friday until Sunday afternoon, coordinating two responses alongside the council’s partners, including the Environment Agency, Conway, Thames Water, UK Power Networks, Southern Gas Networks, the police, fire brigade and BT.

The first of the two responses was the emergency response, which involved evacuating around 100 residents from their homes in the middle of the night as a precaution, while the utility companies worked to restore gas and water supplies. By Saturday evening all evacuated residents, who had been staying with friends or family, had been able to return to their homes. Power and water had been restored to all but a few homes by Saturday night and the remaining properties were reconnected on Sunday.

Running alongside the emergency response, was the response to the partial collapse of the bridge. Council officers worked alongside engineers and the utility companies to assess the damage and work out how to stabilise the bridge, which reopened to pedestrians and cyclists on Sunday morning.

The cause of the partial collapse is being investigated.

Council Leader Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “Our staff worked around the clock over the weekend with the council’s partners to get residents back into their homes and power and water supplies restored to dwellings as quickly as possible. I would like to thank everyone who played a role in the emergency response as well as those involved in assessing the damage to the bridge and stabilising it, so that pedestrians and cyclists were able to cross the bridge.”

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LATEST: Homes in Mitcham without power, gas and water after bridge collapses

15 June, 2019 - 02:45

A bridge has collapsed on the A217 Bishopsford Road / London Road near the junction of Riverside Drive in Mitcham causing damage to a gas pipe and water main. The utility companies have switched off the power, gas and water supplies to the area. The gas supply is expected to be restored today from late afternoon/early evening (Saturday 15 June 2019).

SGN, Thames Water and UK Power Networks are all on site. The Environment Agency are also on site at nearby Watermeads Nature Reserve.

As a precaution, residents living closest to the scene have been evacuated from their homes and Merton Council officers are onsite. Residents in the area are advised to keep windows and doors closed as a precaution and motorists are advised to avoid the area.

Further updates will be posted as we receive them, on this webpage and through the council’s Twitter account @Merton_Council

Contact information for utilities:

SGN:
www.sgn.co.uk
0800 111 999

Thames Water:
https://inyourarea.thameswater.co.uk

UK Power Networks:
www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk
0800 31 63 105

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Council to take enforcement action against rogue landlords

10 June, 2019 - 12:12

New legal powers are set to help Merton council take enforcement action against private sector landlords who are letting out unsuitable or dangerous properties.

At a meeting on Monday 3 June, the council’s Cabinet agreed to look into developing a selective licencing scheme for landlords in areas where there are high numbers of privately rented homes and increased anti-social behaviour or crime and also agreed to the introduction of a civil penalties policy.

The council has the powers to prosecute landlords or impose a fine for breaches of the Housing Act 2004. A rent repayment order can also be made by a tribunal to a landlord for a specific amount of money. Landlords who have been convicted of an offence can also be legally banned from renting properties and added to a national rogue landlords database.

Around a quarter of housing in Merton is privately rented and in some parts of the borough more than a third of homes are rented by private landlords.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton said: “As a council, we want to ensure that all properties across Merton which are rented out by private landlords are well maintained, habitable and safe for tenants to live in.

“We are using powers available to us to clamp down on rogue landlords and use enforcement powers on those who are not meeting their legal obligations to their tenants. As a council we are also undertaking further work on a selective licensing scheme which would require all private-rented housing in designated areas to be licensed which would be used to drive up the standards in the private-rented sector.”

Notes to editors

The proposed selective licencing scheme is in addition to the mandatory houses in multiple occupation licencing scheme, which came into effect in October 2018 and applies to five or more people living as two or more separate households in a single property. Consultation on the proposed new selective licencing scheme is planned for the autumn and the scheme could start in summer 2020.

 

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Three day celebration for Windrush Generation

7 June, 2019 - 10:40

Steel bands, food tasting and an exhibition illuminating the working lives and experiences of members of the Caribbean community feature at events to mark Windrush Day.

Merton is to host events to honour the outstanding contribution made by the Caribbean community to the borough and the UK as a whole, from Friday 21 June until Sunday 23 June. Merton Council is backing national Windrush Day, on June 22, which marks the day in 1948 when the first 500 migrants from the West Indies arrived on MV Empire Windrush.

Everyone is invited to enjoy the celebrations which feature a Heritage Exhibition located at Merton Heritage Centre, Morden Library in Merton Civic Centre from Friday 17 June until Saturday 20 July. The show aims to chart the contribution made by the Caribbean community from the work they took on, to help rebuild the post-war British economy, as nurses and transport workers to roles ranging from politicians, actors and musicians.

Merton Council’s Heritage Centre is also seeking members of the Windrush Generation for a reminiscence filming project to capture their stories and experiences for future generations. The film would be available for schools and community groups later in the year. Merton Heritage Centre is to provide a resource pack for schools which they will be able to draw upon during Black History Month in October.

Pandemonium, a steel band comprised of talented Stanford Primary School children are to perform outside the Civic Centre as part of Schools Celebration on Friday 21 June from 10am until noon. There are two songs organised by the Merton Music Foundation called Farewell Calypso and New Place Called Home. Other attractions for the morning include a performance of Farewell Calypso sung by school children, Caribbean storytelling sessions and a display of winning entries to a poster competition.

Caribbean food tasting is to be held as part of the Windrush Day Community Celebration, at Morden Library on Saturday 22 June from 12.30pm until 4.40pm. Highlights of the afternoon are set to include performances from community steel band Panash outside the civic centre. There is also going to be an interactive workshop tracing British/Caribbean historical links and the chance to hear about people’s migration experiences.

To round off the celebrations an Interdenominational Thanksgiving Service is to be held on Sunday 23 June at St Barnabas Church in Gorringe Park Avenue in Mitcham from 4pm until 6pm. The service will be followed by refreshments.

Cabinet Member for Voluntary Sector, Partnerships and Community Safety, Councillor Edith Macauley MBE, said: “We are delighted to be hosting these events to honour the outstanding contribution the Windrush Generation and their descendants have made to our borough and the UK as a whole.”

“From the historical displays illuminating people’s lives, the interactive workshop and of course the music, singing and food of the Caribbean there’s going to be something for everyone to enjoy.”

“It is hugely important that we back the aims of Windrush Day to recognise the important legacy of the Windrush Generation in our cultural and economic life to ensure we continue to recognise and celebrate our diverse shared history.”

“Merton Council successfully bid for a grant of £16,000 from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Church Urban Fund which was allocated for Windrush Day events across the country.”

Merton Council is urging any residents, who have suffered from not having the documentation to prove they are in the country legally, to claim compensation from the Government’s scheme. The scheme is for those who came to the UK from the Caribbean or any other Commonwealth country between 1948 and 1973.

For more information on the Government’s Windrush Compensation Scheme, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/windrush-compensation-scheme

 

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Rainbow pedestrian crossing to flag up support for the LGBT+ community

5 June, 2019 - 12:01

A stunning rainbow has landed in Wimbledon to celebrate the town’s inclusivity, welcome its first LGBT+ bar, and support this year’s Pride in London events.

Merton Council has installed a Rainbow Crossing in Wimbledon Broadway by  the recently opened CMYK bar.  The multi-coloured crossing has been created in the design of the Rainbow Flag – which has been adopted, across the globe, as a symbol to celebrate the LGBT+ community and its diversity.

The month long Pride in London event, which kicks off on Saturday June 8, is to bring a host of cultural treats to venues across the capital in addition to its famous parade in Central London. The festival aims to celebrate the creativity of the LGBT+ community, challenge prejudice and campaign for equal rights for members both at home and abroad.

Cabinet Member for Women and Equalities, Councillor Laxmi Attawar said: “We are really proud to have created a Rainbow Crossing in our borough to show a blaze of colourful support for members of the LGBT+ community.  We want to extend a warm welcome to the CMYK bar which is a wonderful addition to the diverse cultural offer we have in Merton.

“The development is part of our ongoing commitment to celebrate the huge contribution the LGBT+ community brings to Merton and help raise awareness of the challenges LGBT+ people continue to face.

“Merton is one of the most welcoming and safest boroughs in London and this high profile colourful artwork is a great reminder to us all, that as a community we value diversity.”

Patrick Lyster-Todd, Secretary of Merton LGBT+ Forum, said, “This is an amazing and symbolic undertaking by the London Borough of Merton, not just to mark this year’s Pride in London but also the opening of Wimbledon’s first LGBT+ bar and club, right at its centre. I have been there several times already and it is the most welcoming, fun and safe place for all, with marvellous staff – but our local LGBT+ community must now rally around and support it wholeheartedly so that it becomes a vibrant new home for all of us.”

Charlie Walker the General Manager at the CMYK bar, said he and his staff are delighted with the welcome they have received in Wimbledon. He said: “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”

Helen Clark Bell, the Chief Executive of the Love Wimbledon bid, said:  “The bright, beaming rainbow that has landed on Wimbledon Broadway celebrates Wimbledon’s new LGBTQ bar which is a beacon of the town centre’s inclusive community.  Building a sense of pride in Wimbledon has been a key objective for Love Wimbledon. What better way to celebrate this than to have a rainbow pedestrian crossing installed outside CMYK, the first LGBTQ Bar in Wimbledon.”

Around one million people attend the annual Pride in London parade in Central London which is to be held,  this year,  on Saturday 6 July. For more information visit: prideinlondon.org

To find out more about Merton’s LGBT+ Forum, visit: mertonlgbtforum.org.uk

Categories: News from elsewhere

Merton celebrates library volunteers

3 June, 2019 - 14:30

Merton’s award winning libraries are celebrating Volunteers’ Week by saying thank you to its volunteers for the fantastic contribution they make to their service.

Over 500 volunteers have contributed their time to one of the seven libraries in Merton over the last year, with over 27,000 hours of volunteering being completed. Merton’s successful volunteering model is widely recognised across the country, receiving a number of awards including praise from Volunteering England.

Merton libraries volunteering recruitment campaign.

Cabinet member for Commerce, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah said: “Our volunteers come from all walks of life and bring a broad range of experience to their roles. People volunteer for a variety of reasons, it might be to meet new people, improve their skills or to give something back and make a difference to their local community.

“We have hundreds of volunteers making a huge difference to our award winning library service and this is our chance to recognise them for their hard work and commitment.”

Volunteers’ Week is an annual event that celebrates the fantastic contribution that volunteers make across the UK. The week plays a huge part in raising the profile of the millions of volunteers who regularly contribute to society, while inspiring others to get involved too.

Ahead of Volunteers’ Week, Merton libraries hosted a thank you celebration to mark the excellent contribution volunteers have made to their service. The celebration saw over 130 volunteers awarded certificates of appreciation by former Mayor, Councillor Mary Curtin, Councillor Nick Draper and Chief Executive of MVSC, Khadiru Mahdi. The event recognised the outstanding contribution that volunteers make on a daily basis to improve library services and make them more reflective of the communities they serve. Volunteers undertake a wide variety of roles including meeting and greeting, supporting children’s activities, shelving books and helping to deliver outreach sessions.

If you would like to try something new, Merton libraries are recruiting volunteers this summer. To find out about the opportunities available visit: merton.gov.uk/libraries or pop into one of the seven libraries and speak to a member of staff.

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Merton’s libraries to get even better with funding to create children’s sensory areas

28 May, 2019 - 13:59

Themed sensory areas will be created in all of Merton’s libraries for all children, with additional services being provided for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) children.

Each of Merton Council’s seven award winning libraries will have its own theme, based on popular themes such as mystical forests, space and water. Specialist books and an activity programme of events across the borough will be offered for all children and with a particular focus on SEND children and their families.

The project is being funded by a £94,826 Arts Council England grant, which the council successfully bid for.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Commerce, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding to create a sensory area in each library for all children to enjoy and benefit from, but specifically children with special educational needs or disabilities. This will be complemented by specialist books and resources as well as a dedicated arts and literature activity programme.

“This important project also entails the wider community and our library staff and volunteers will be working with our partners and schools to break down barriers and dispel misconceptions of special educational needs and disabilities, reduce isolation and open new doors of opportunity for children and their families. This innovative project is the first of its kind in the UK.”

Support will also be offered by the library service to the parents and carers of children with SEND, including social events and family activities to reduce isolation along with family learning courses provided by Merton’s adult learning providers.

Library staff and volunteers will receive training in awareness of children with SEND and how to run activities for them.

The school’s library membership scheme will also be expanded to include all special schools with regular class visits set up.

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Merton marks International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

17 May, 2019 - 11:41

The colourful LGBT freedom flag can be seen flying over the Merton Civic Centre today to mark this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

The Mayor of Merton, Councillor Janice Howard and members of Merton’s LGBT+ Forum joined council and community representatives to mark IDAHOBIT, an event celebrated in 60 countries across the world. This year’s worldwide theme is Justice and Protection for All, which aims to raise awareness of violence, discrimination and the repression of LGBTQ+ communities across the world. A minute’s silence followed the flag raising to remember all those who are affected by Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

Cabinet Member for Women and Equalities, Councillor Laxmi Attawar said: “We are proud to celebrate IDAHOBIT by flying the LGBT freedom flag outside the civic centre and working closely with Merton’s LGBT+ Forum to raise awareness of the stigma people can face because of who they are.

“The forum has been working hard to raise awareness of hate crime and to encourage victims to come forward and report it. We want people to know support is available and our police colleagues can take action against those who perpetrate hate crimes.

“Merton continues to be one of the safest and welcoming London boroughs and so I am asking everyone to show their rainbow colours and support for LGBTQ+ people”.

Patrick Lyster-Todd, from Merton LGBT Forum, said:  “One of the things that I’m proudest about, as a resident in Merton, is the cultural diversity of the borough and the emphasis on community cohesion. This is something that we are really good at and demonstrates its an area in which we can all come together. IDAHOBIT marks our joint approach within the borough to address all forms of hate crime, of inequality and division. We are all so much better together and achieve so much more. By respecting our differences and learning and sharing from this process then we can rise above any challenge. In that way we can all own IDAHOBIT”

To find out more about Merton’s LGBT+ Forum, visit: mertonlgbtforum.org.uk or for information about Hate Crime and how to report it, visit https://www2.merton.gov.uk/community-living/communitysafety/hatecrime.htm

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Council Leader announces cabinet reshuffle

15 May, 2019 - 21:11

Two new cabinet members have been appointed by the Leader of the Council, it was announced at the Council meeting on Wednesday 22 May.

Councillor Stephen Alambritis has also made some changes to portfolios as part of a cabinet reshuffle.

Councillor Laxmi Attawar and Councillor Eleanor Stringer have joined the Cabinet. 

The new cabinet is:

  • Leader of the Council – Councillor Stephen Alambritis
  • Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance – Councillor Mark Allison
  • Cabinet Member for Women and Equalities – Councillor Laxmi Attawar
  • Cabinet Member for Children’s Services – Councillor Kelly Braund
  • Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and the Environment – Councillor Tobin Byers
  • Cabinet Member for Commerce, Leisure and Culture – Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah
  • Cabinet Member for Voluntary Sector Partnerships and Community Safety – Councillor Edith Macauley
  • Cabinet Member for Schools and Adult Education – Councillor Eleanor Stringer
  • Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport – Councillor Martin Whelton

A full list of each cabinet member’s responsibilities can be found on the council’s website.

Councillor Alambritis said: “When I first became a cabinet member, I had the Equalities portfolio, and have previously been a Commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, so establishing this new role was very important to me. Laxmi is well known across the community as a great advocate for equality, and I am delighted she has agreed to take the role.

“Over the past two years, Merton’s schools have been the best in the country for the progress our children make, and education is every parent’s top priority, so it’s great to be able to appoint Eleanor to the cabinet. She brings a wealth of professional experience in education to her new role, having worked on projects in hundreds of schools across England with a particular focus on raising standards for disadvantaged children.

“I want to thank Councillor Mike Brunt and Councillor Nick Draper for their hard work and service during their time in the cabinet. Theirs will be very hard shoes to fill.”

Councillor Attawar said: “Merton is an incredibly diverse and welcoming borough and the council is committed to ensuring that there are equal opportunities for everyone. I am looking forward to working with all our local communities, faith groups and others to help bridge the gap to make our borough a place where everyone can thrive.”

Cllr Stringer said: “More parents than ever are choosing to send their children to Merton’s schools because they are among the best performing in the country. Education has been my passion for many years and I want to ensure that every pupil at school in our borough has the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Merton is a great place for families, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

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