NEW News from Merton Council
Merton Council has offered a primary school place to every Merton child whose family applied for one this year.
Eight out of 10 families have been offered a reception place for their child at their first choice of primary school and 92 per cent of applicants received an offer for one of their top three schools. Almost 95 per cent of families have been offered a place for their child to start in September at one of the schools named on their application form.
Families across Merton are to be given the news this evening on the primary place allocations, which are co-ordinated for the London Boroughs by the Pan London Admissions Board.
Every Merton family, who applied for a reception place, has been offered a place despite a rise in applications this year to 2,553 from 2,508 last year.
Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, said: “Starting primary school is such an important milestone in every child’s life and so we are delighted that we have been able to offer places for all the Merton families who applied for one this year.”
Councillors in Merton voted on Wednesday to join a national campaign calling for the abolition of Section 21 – the law which allows landlords to evict tenants with just two months’ notice without giving them a reason.
The campaign is organised by the private renters’ campaign group Generation Rent, who alongside leading renters and tenants’ associations, are calling for a change in the law to prevent these no -fault evictions.
There are around 19,400 privately rented properties in Merton and many tenants are on contracts with fixed terms of six months or a year. After this period has ended, landlords can evict their tenants with just two months’ notice – and without even giving them a reason. These ‘no fault evictions’ were introduced under section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act. Before this, private tenants had much greater security and it was much harder for landlords to evict tenants who paid the rent on time and looked after the property.
Councillor Martin Whelton, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport said: “Merton is a great place for families to live and while we recognise that there are many excellent landlords in our borough, we want to ensure that all good private tenants can be afforded the same security in living. By supporting the work of Generation Rent, we’re calling for a change in the law, to help prevent homelessness and improve the rental market for tenants by helping to protect them from a no fault eviction.”
Georgie Laming, Campaigner for Generation Rent, said: “One in four families across the country live in private rented accommodation, and each and every one of them are at risk from a no fault eviction. Councils like Merton are on the front line in the battle against homelessness, and we want many more local authorities to follow their lead and support the campaign for national change.”
Notes to editors
About the End Unfair Evictions campaign
The End Unfair Evictions Campaign is a coalition led by Generation Rent, the New Economics Foundation, ACORN, Tenants Union UK, and the London Renters Union. It calls on the Government to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions for private renters.
What is section 21?
Section 21 is the clause in the 1988 Housing Act which allows Landlords to evict tenants with just two months’ notice and without giving a reason. The clause applies when the fixed term of a tenancy (usually six to 12 months) has ended and a tenant is on a rolling contract.
There are over 853,000 privately rented properties in London, and 19,400 of those are in Merton. Source: ONS, housing tenure of households: 2016, February 2018.
Street cleaning crews, councillors and residents are joining forces to help give the borough a spring clean and remind everyone to bin their litter responsibly.
Merton Council is inviting everyone to its litter picking event in Pollards Hill tomorrow, which is being held as part of the Great British Spring Clean campaign.
The council is backing the national campaign to encourage everyone to become a ‘litter hero’ and do their bit to keep streets, parks and open spaces looking beautiful and litter free. There is to be a whole host of community litter picks across the borough for the month-long campaign – which runs until Tuesday April 23. The Keep Britain Tidy campaign also aims to encourage people to recycle more and avoid single-use plastics to help reduce litter.
The community call to action coincides with Merton Council’s campaign to clampdown on fly-tipping and littering which is a serious blight on the environment.
The council, which spends millions of pounds every year clearing up dumped rubbish and dropped litter, issued 6,956 fixed penalty notices for littering offences in 2018/19.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Cleanliness, Councillor Mike Brunt, said: “We are really keen to work together with residents and community groups on the shared goal of keeping our borough clean and tidy. Together, we can make a difference and make sure Merton continues to be a great place for families to live.
“Littering by the thoughtless and selfish few in our streets and parks is a major blight on the environment, which impacts of everybody’s quality of life. This is why we are taking a tough line on litter bugs and take a zero tolerance approach to littering and all forms of environment crime.
“The Great British Spring Clean campaign provide a wonderful opportunity to build upon the immense civic pride so many residents and businesses have for our borough. So I hope as many people as possible will be inspired to become a Merton ‘litter hero’ and join in events to blitz clean their neighbourhoods this month.”
Notes to editors:
- The Great British Clean event in Pollards Hill organised by Merton Council will be held on Saturday 6 April from 10am until 1pm. To take part meet in the car park at the Community Centre on South Lodge Avenue.
- Residents and groups can take part in an organised clean-up or set their own ones up. Organisers are reminded to register their events on the Keep Britain Tidy website and let the Council’s Street Cleaning team know. The team can provide information, advice and equipment such as rubbish bags, litter pickers and gloves. Contact John Ball on 020 8545 3173 or email email@example.com
A signposted route around Figges Marsh in Mitcham has been opened to encourage all residents, whatever their age or fitness levels, to walk, jog or run a mile every day. The #MertonMile, run by Merton Council, aims to motivate school children, their families and all residents of Merton to be more active.
The council and its partners on the Merton Health and Wellbeing Board are also officially launching their Sugar Smart campaign, which aims to reduce the amount of sugar that people eat and drink. Consuming a lot of sugar can increase the risk of developing diabetes.
Preventing diabetes is the focus of two reports being launched today to coincide with Diabetes Awareness Week. One is the Annual report of Merton Council’s Director of Public Health, Dr Dagmar Zeuner and the other is the Tackling Diabetes Action Plan 2019-2024 by the Merton Health and Wellbeing Board. The action plan was informed by lessons learned through the Diabetes Truth Programme, which involved each member of the board shadowing someone who is at risk of, living with or caring for someone with diabetes to gain an insight into what it is like to live with the condition.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Tobin Byers, who also chairs the Merton Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Small lifestyle changes, including walking, jogging or running a mile every day and swapping sugary foods for healthier alternatives, can make a huge difference to our physical health and mental wellbeing and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.”
In Merton, cases of diabetes are increasing with nearly 11,200 people over the age of 17 diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2017/18. If nothing changes, this is predicted to rise to nearly 18,400 people by 2035.
Being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes. In Merton, one in every five children starting primary school is overweight or obese and this increases to one in three pupils leaving primary school.
The Merton Child Healthy Weight Action Plan 2019-2022, which was also launched today, advocates a family and healthy place based approach to increasing the number of children who are a healthy weight.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Kelly Braund, said: “Getting into healthy habits at a young age can help to reduce the risk of obesity and long term conditions including diabetes.
“Childhood obesity is a complex issue and there is no single solution, which is why we are working with families and the wider community to ensure Merton is a healthy place to grow up.”
Merton council is handing out free ‘mobile ashtrays’ as part of its action to make smokers aware of the impact that discarded cigarette ends have on the environment.
Enforcement officers are touring busy shopping areas across the borough this month as part of the council’s ongoing campaign to stamp out unsightly littering.
Smokers are being warned to ‘Watch your butt’ in the campaign, as anyone spotted leaving or throwing a cigarette end on the street in Merton now faces a £150 fine.
The officers are giving out free pouches to smokers which can be used to store extinguished cigarette ends until they can be responsibly discarded in a suitable bin.
The council, which spends millions a year clearing up dropped litter and dumped rubbish, is highlighting that, despite being small items, cigarette butts form a large amount of the litter pollution across the borough. In addition to being unsightly and difficult to clean up, cigarette butts are packed full of toxins which are harmful to the environment and can pose a threat to health.
The campaign to rid the streets of cigarette butts is being carried out as part of the council’s zero tolerance approach to littering and all forms of environmental crime. As part of its work to stop people littering, the council issued 6,956 fixed penalty notices for offences during 2018/19.
The Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Cleanliness, Councillor Mike Brunt, said: “One cigarette butt might be small item, but the sheer volume of them left or thrown on streets or in open spaces creates a major littering issue. Cigarette filters also contain all the chemicals smokers do not want to breathe in, so those discarded in the street potentially threaten the health of children and wildlife. We are warning smokers that if they drop a butt in Merton it could be the most expensive cigarette they have ever smoked – it could cost them a fine of £150.”
“Our borough is not an ashtray. This is why we are reminding smokers to bin their butts responsibly or, if suitable bins are not available, to use one of the free mobile ashtrays we are handing out.”
Merton Council recognises that litter is the number one concern for residents. Work to reduce littering has included investing in litter bins with ash trays and installing special cigarette butt and chewing gum bins in town centres in addition to continued enforcement action and awareness campaigns.
Engagement officers will be visiting Colliers Wood, Morden, Raynes Park, Wimbledon, and Mitcham to hand out pouches up until Friday April 26.
Residents and people who work in Merton are being encouraged to have their say in a public consultation about a proposed new set of parking charges, which aim to reduce air pollution and support drivers to make more journeys by walking, cycling and using public transport.
The consultation, which has been launched today is about plans to introduce a new charging system for on street parking, car parks, residents’ permits and visitors’ permits.
The new system is being proposed to encourage people to make more journeys by bike or on foot to help reduce air pollution levels.
Air pollution is recognised as a major contributor to poor health, with more than 9,000 premature deaths attributed to poor air quality in London. Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts; it is recognised as a contributing factor in the onset of heart disease and cancer, and studies suggest it may be associated with cognitive ageing. Air pollution particularly affects the most vulnerable in society: children and older people, and anyone with long term health conditions.
Merton has already adopted a new Air Quality Action Plan, which includes a number of important measures to tackle toxic air in the borough. The whole borough has been designated an air quality management area, which means more must be done to reduce levels of small particles and nitrogen dioxide.
Nearly two thirds of this pollutant is emitted from vehicles, particularly in town centres, which are often congested. The council has already introduced walking and cycling initiatives; anti-idling measures; car clubs, electric vehicle charging points and the diesel levy to take the most polluting vehicles off the road. The council is now seeking to use its parking strategy to adjust driver behaviour and ensure that we can provide a modern, efficient and environmentally sustainable transport policy for residents, visitors, and businesses.
The proposed new set of parking charges is led by geography. It takes into account public transport links in each area – parking in areas well served by public transport will cost more than in places which are less well connected. Another key factor is congestion hotspots where increasing the charge for a bay and limiting how long a vehicle can park there can help to reduce the pollution from vehicles circling the area looking for a space.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Tobin Byers, said: “The council has already taken a number of measures to tackle the poor air quality in the borough, but we need to do more. A significant proportion of the pollution generated in Merton comes from our vehicles, so we need to try and reduce car usage and encourage people to use more sustainable modes of transport, which will help improve our air quality.
“We all have a part to play in reducing pollution levels in our borough by making more journeys on foot or by cycling, rather than driving. Merton is the only London borough to have trains, two Underground lines, trams and buses, which means people who live in, work in and visit the borough could leave their car at home more often.
“I would urge everyone to have their say in the consultation on the proposed new parking charges, which aim to improve air quality and encourage more active travel, particularly for local journeys.”
The consultation runs until 5 May 2019.
For more information and to have your say, visit: merton.gov.uk/parkingconsultation2019
Statutory traffic management order consultations will run within the period of the main consultation.
A decision is due to be made by Cabinet in the summer.
The next round of Merton’s Neighbourhood Fund is now open for bids from residents as well as community and business groups until Tuesday 7 May.
Merton Council is inviting bids from the community to a £350,000 pot of cash from this year’s Neighbourhood Fund. Projects that improve the environment or community facilities, and mitigate the demands a development has brought to an area, will be considered for funding. The funding comes from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – which is the money developers are required to pay to support the demands from developments across the borough.
Last year the successful bids to Merton’s Neighbourhood Fund included the St Mark’s Place Urban Lunchtime Zone project in Wimbledon to create a haven for people away from the bustle of Wimbledon town centre. Works to rejuvenate shop fronts, including those in parades in Colliers Wood, were also funded from the scheme. The other winning bids included the Merton’s Lost Rivers project to revitalise the borough’s culverted rivers and improvement works to the street signs for Mitcham Cricket Green.
All bids will be assessed against criteria set out online to ensure they address neighbourhood priorities, are in line with the council’s community plans, and are deliverable. Residents should discuss their ideas with their Merton ward councillors in the first instance to ensure they support the bid.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “Merton’s Neighbourhood Fund provides a wonderful opportunity to use funding from developers to make neighbourhood improvement. Thanks to the efforts of residents and community groups from across Merton who made bids last year, we were able to support a broad range of community schemes which are helping to make a real difference to their local environment. As a council we are also committed to bridging the gap between the east and west of the borough and ensuring that projects submitted also meet the priorities set out in the community plan.”
For the criteria for bids and the application form click Here
For more information email neighbourhoodFund@merton.gov.uk
NOTES FOR EDITORS: Merton Council also uses Community Infrastructure Levy funding to help pay for key infrastructure projects in accordance with Regulations and Government guidance. Funding is approved as part of the Capital Programme allocation process.
A teenage diving star is to help make sure our sparkling new leisure centre is officially opened with a big splash. Eden Cheng, who sensationally clinched gold at the European Championships last year aged just 15, is to join Mayor of Merton, Councillor Mary Curtin for the official opening of the Morden Leisure Centre on Saturday 30 March from 2pm until 6pm.
Inspirational 16-year-old Eden won a gold medal in the 10 metre women’s synchro with partner Lois Toulson in Glasgow last year. The South Londoner previously netted a gold medal when she represented Great Britain at the Junior European Championships in Bergen.
The grand opening is to be a fantastic afternoon bursting with free family fun and sporty activities at the state-of-the-art centre in the heart of Morden Park. All Merton residents are welcome to attend the event, which will have something for everyone to enjoy: from a giant inflatable game to yoga, swimming and aerobics sessions as well as plenty of surprise treats. There will also be tours of the building, which boasts a 25m six-lane pool, another pool with a moveable floor for aqua aerobics, toddler and diving classes in addition to a 100-station fitness studio with the latest kit for gym goers to work up a sweat.
Visitors have been flocking to the new centre in the picturesque setting of Morden Park, just off London Road, since it opened its doors last November. The new facility, built by Merton Council for the community, has brought a major surge in the number of fitness sessions attended by local residents. As well as a rise in the numbers of visitors exercising in the pools or working out in the gym the number of people taking up memberships to leisure facilities swelled by 58 per cent, compared to the old centre, in the first three months alone.
The centre, designed in consultation with the community, hosts a range of clubs and a café with an outside area which will be a glorious place to sit and relax in come the summer. The centre is fully accessible throughout, with a designated ‘changing places’ room including an accessible toilet, shower and hoist. The special features include a ‘pool pod’ – a newly-designed platform to help disabled swimmers get in and out of the water.
Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, Councillor Nick Draper said: “It’s just brilliant that Eden Cheng can be with us for the grand opening of our new leisure centre. We are really looking forward to showing her around the fantastic facilities. I’m so proud of this amazing new centre that we’ve built for the families of Morden, and I want to see as many families and groups of friends as possible at the centre on Saturday to help us celebrate alongside the Mayor of Merton.”
• Morden Leisure Centre welcomed 35,959 visitors in November and December – up more than 30 per cent compared to visitor numbers at Morden Park Pools during the same period the previous year.
• Significantly there was a massive rise of more than 6,000 visits to the new centre during its opening month of November compared to those at the former pools during October.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
• The council invested in the new centre as a replacement for the ageing 1960s built Morden Park Pool which had become energy inefficient and expensive to maintain. The former pools will be demolished and the site will be landscaped to create a public open space for the community to enjoy.
• The new centre is managed by social enterprise company GLL – Better which also runs Canons Leisure Centre in Mitcham and Wimbledon Leisure Centre on behalf of the council.
• Morden Leisure Centre opens from 6am until 9pm on weekdays and from 7.30am until 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. A range of different membership deals are available.
Eleven residents have been prosecuted and fined more than £1,300 each for fly-tipping offences following two covert operations run by Merton Council.
The action at fly-tipping hot-spots was carried out as part of the council’s “We Are Watching You” campaign, aimed at cracking down on anyone who dumps rubbish in the borough. The Council is warning it is now using hidden cameras, tip-offs and undertaking investigations to trace the owners of fly-tipped items. This work is being carried out as part of the council’s battle to rid neighbourhoods from the blight of fly-tipping.
In addition to being fined the residents, observed by Merton’s enforcement team dumping their furniture and general domestic waste, have also netted a criminal record.
As part of the operations the team also seized three vehicles suspected of being linked with fly-tipping offences, of which two have been destroyed. One van was seized outside the registered driver’s home after he failed to respond to officers investigating fly-tipping activities.
Since last April a total of 33 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) have been also issued to people responsible for smaller fly tip offences. These notices, which have led to £400 on-the-spot fines, were issued for incidents such as dumping a bag of rubbish by a public litter bin.
Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Cleanliness Councillor Mike Brunt said: “Fly-tipping is a major blight on neighbourhoods and it is a serious criminal offence whether it involves tonnes of builder’s waste, mattresses or bags of domestic garbage.
“Every year, the council spends £5m cleaning up after the selfish minority who dump their rubbish or throw away their litter irresponsibly. This is tax-payers money that we want to spend on enhancing vital services for all our residents.
“This is why our message is clear: if you fly-tip in Merton expect to be investigated and face prosecution because “We Are Watching You”. Fly-tipping can lead to hefty fines, a criminal record and in serious cases a prison sentence.
“This action is being carried out as part of our pledge to use the full weight of our enforcement powers to protect the safety and quality of life of our residents.”
If you suspect someone is involved in fly-tipping or any other environmental crimes report it by visiting: https://www.merton.gov.uk/rubbish-and-recycling/litter-fly-tipping-and-street-cleaning
Merton residents can dispose of bulky household items for free by taking them to the borough’s Recycling Centre, 63-69 Amenity Way, Garth Road in Morden. Residents can also book collections of bulky waste, which in line with the majority other London boroughs, is chargeable.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Merton Council’s ‘We Are Watching You’ campaign is being run as part of the council’s pledge to use the full weight of its enforcement powers to protect residents from the criminals and rogue traders who threaten their safety. Key areas of action include crime and anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and food safety.
Merton Council has successfully secured a borough-wide injunction banning unauthorised encampments on its land for the foreseeable future.
The injunction granted at the High Court gives the council new powers to protect all of its properties including parks, open spaces, cemeteries, allotments, car parks, industrial estates, schools, leisure facilities and offices from the damage illegal occupations can cause. In addition to covering council owned land the ban also covers Mitcham Common.
Merton has seen a growth in illegal encampments in recent years and an associated increase in fly-tipping which has impacted heavily on the lives of residents and businesses. The bill for clean-up operations of unauthorised occupations of land and officer time pursuing individual proceedings through courts has come to many thousands of pounds.
The injunction gives Merton Council the power to require anyone illegally occupying its land to leave immediately and to seize vehicles if this request is not complied with.
The ban is anticipated to be a major deterrent to people setting up unauthorised camps as breaches of the injunction can lead to large fines, the seizure of property and prison sentences.
Councillor Stephen Alambritis, the Leader of Merton Council, said: “This injunction is about protecting Merton’s property including its beautiful and valuable parks and open spaces from damage. Our aim is to ensure all our residents can fully enjoy the borough’s facilities.
“We are taking this decisive and proactive action in response to a huge number of concerns expressed by residents and businesses over issues such as fly-tipping and environmental damage from unauthorised occupations.
“It is just not acceptable for the council to be spending many thousands of pounds a year on clearing up fly-tips and repairing damage to land caused by people occupying places illegally.
“This ban sends out a strong message that illegal encampments will not be tolerated in Merton.”
The injunction granted at the High Court, which runs until March 2022, extended an interim three-month ban previously secured by the council last December. Copies of the injunction are posted at all the sites it protects and on the council’s website.
For more information visit: https://www.merton.gov.uk/planning-and-buildings/unauthorised-encampments
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The council has provided a traveller site in Brickfield Road in Wimbledon which is managed by Clarion Housing.
- Wimbledon Common is administered by the Wimbledon Common Conservators.
Businesses and entrepreneurs are being encouraged to enter the Merton Best Business Awards.
Merton Council is sponsoring two of the 16 award categories – Best Medium Business and Entrepreneur of the Year.
The Best Medium Business Award is aimed at businesses with between 20 and 100 employees and can show outstanding initiative, boldness and imagination in the enterprise, as well as sound management practice.
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award is for entrepreneurs demonstrating innovation, creativity and the ability to think and behave differently to the norm – turning their ideas into business opportunities.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, said: “Merton is a business-like council and we are proud to be sponsoring two categories in the Merton Best Business Awards for Best Medium Business and Entrepreneur of the Year.
“Merton is a great place to do business and these awards recognise the achievements of businesses and entrepreneurs who drive our local economy with their innovation and creativity.
“I am encouraging businesses across the borough to enter these prestigious awards and their customers to nominate them.”
Chief Executive Diana Sterck said: “I think our 2019 categories really get to the heart of best practice – how businesses and the people within them are empowered and valued as part of overall success.
“The Merton Business Awards really celebrate businesses in the difficult and challenging times and offer a way to differentiate businesses from competitors. We can’t wait to see who enters and wish all the very best of luck.”
For more information about the awards and to make a nomination or enter your business for an award, visit: www.mertonbestbusiness.co.uk or call 020 8944 5501 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The closing date for nominations and entries is 21 June and a shortlist of finalists will be published in July.
The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony which will take place on 26 September at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon.
Merton Council hosted an event to raise awareness of all forms child exploitation on National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day.
Council officers, teachers and staff from other organisations who work to keep Merton youngsters safe from harm, including the Met police, attended the event on Monday 18 March. Merton Council, which is committed to its work with its partners and families to fight child exploitation and support victims, held the event for the national annual campaign day.
The campaign, to raise awareness of the criminal as well as the sexual exploitation of children, aims to create a zero tolerance approach to adults developing inappropriate relationships with young people. Everyone is being urged to ‘think, spot and speak out about abuse’ rather than assume someone else will report concerns.
Child sexual exploitation covers all kinds of manipulation or coercion of young people, under the age of 18, into sexual activity. Perpetrators can be adults or other children and victims can be targeted online as well as in person. This year the national campaign promotes a broader understanding of the exploitation many young people face in areas of criminal activity – including drug dealing and county lines – as well as modern slavery and trafficking.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s services, Councillor Kelly Braund said: “Our event was held as part of our ongoing commitment to fight child exploitation and do everything we can to support victims and work with their families. The well-being and safety of all children in Merton is paramount.”
“It is vital that we raise awareness of the issues around all forms of child exploitation and promote knowledge of the signs which indicate a young person is being harmed, as well as challenge the victim-blaming assumptions and language that reinforce messages from perpetrators around shame and guilt. Victims of exploitation can be both girls and boys from all backgrounds and the signs can sometimes be hard to recognise.”
“We really want to encourage everyone in the community to take responsibility and help keep our young people safe from harm. This is why we are backing the call for this National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day for everyone ‘to think, spot and speak out’ to end the devastating harm exploitation has on young lives. Together, we can work to inform, educate and prevent all forms of child exploitation in Merton.”
If you have a concern around child exploitation or the welfare of a child call Merton’s Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 020 8545 4226 or 020 8545 4227 (Out of hours: 020 8770 5000). If you suspect a child is at immediate harm from sexual or criminal exploitation call the Met police on 999.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
For information on National Child Sexual Exploitation Day and to access resources to help young people, parents and businesses understand what child exploitation is visit www.stop-cse.org
Residents are advised to keep their doors and windows closed as firefighters tackle the blaze on the Suez site in Mitcham.
Firefighters were called to the fire at the waste storage centre in Benedict Wharf, Hallowfield Way, at around 8.15pm last night. They remain at the scene.
Motorists are advised to avoid the area due to traffic delays.
Benedict School, Melrose School and Cricket Green School are all closed today.
Merton Council agreed its budget for 2019/20 at last night’s full Council meeting (6 March).
Due to funding cuts from the Government, the council has had to make savings of £10m per year in addition to savings agreed in previous years. To balance the budget, the council has also had to increase council tax by 4.99% – in line with the Government’s expectations. This is around £1.12 a week for a Band D property. Nearly half of this increase is the Government precept and to be used exclusively on adult social care.
However, the Council has also agreed not to reduce council tax rebates for low income households, and has decided that our young people leaving care will be exempt from paying council tax from 2019/20 until they are 25.
Despite increasing financial pressures, the council has planned its expenditure carefully, which resulted in:
- The opening last autumn of the brand new state of the art Morden Leisure Centre to replace the dilapidated Morden Park Pools.
- All of the borough’s seven award-winning libraries being kept open.
- The opening of a new secondary school, with a new building in South Wimbledon underway, to meet the increasing demand for school places in Merton.
Merton’s secondary schools all being rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted. The council has also agreed to work in creative ways to deliver services in partnership with other public, voluntary and private sector organisations, and has announced strategic partner grants of £732,000 over the next two years, as part of our overall £9m grants budget.
Adult social care accounts for the biggest share of the council’s budget and services for older and disabled residents are being targeted to ensure they reach those most in need.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Mark Allison, said: “We have managed the pressures on our finances by taking a business-like approach, being efficient and innovative, and working in partnership with other organisations ways to do the same things more cheaply.
“Unfortunately, government cuts on this unprecedented scale are bound to have an impact, but our approach has helped us protect services for those who rely on us most – older and disabled people and vulnerable children – and helped make Merton a great place for families.”
Record numbers of students have been offered their top preferences for Merton’s secondaries in a year which has seen the borough’s schools more popular than ever.
Figures revealed today show that 85.5 per cent of Merton children have been offered a place in one of their top three preferred secondary schools. Two-thirds of Merton children were offered a place at their first choice secondary school and 93 per cent a place at one of their six preferences.
This year has seen more families requesting Merton schools as their top choices from both inside and outside the borough. Although Merton Council has been working to meet the rising popularity of its secondary schools, which are all rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, a small number of applicants have yet to be given an offer. The Council is reassuring all families involved that it will be working to ensure that there will be a Merton secondary school place for every Merton child who wants one.
The new Harris Wimbledon Academy opened its doors last September as part of the council’s plans to cater for the boom in secondary age children in the borough, and alongside its neighbouring schools, it is fully subscribed.
Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah said: “Merton schools are deservedly more popular than ever with more and more families choosing them as their top preferences for their children. Our state secondary schools are in the top 10 per cent in the country for the progress young people make between the ages of 11-16, and all our schools are ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’.
“We would like to remind parents that they should respond to their offer by 15 March and that our School Admissions website gives further details to parents in different circumstances on what to do next. We would like to reassure everyone that we are working hard to make sure there will be a secondary school place for every Merton child who wants one, before the new school year starts in September.”
Notes to Editors
- Although there was a similar number of resident admissions applications to last year there was a significant rise in families including Merton Schools as their top preference choices.
- Parents are requested to notify the council of their intention to take up their offers as soon as possible especially if they wish to take up an offer from an independent school instead.
- Applications for secondary places are made via the pan-London Admissions scheme. Families fill in a single application form even if they are applying to schools in more than one borough. They can put down up to six schools in order of preference and submit the form to the borough where they live. Applications are considered by schools in line with their published admission criteria.
Counterfeit clothes, shoes and toys seized by Merton Council and Richmond Council have been donated to the charity Sports Traider.
The items, including rugby scarfs, boots, trainers, jewellery and toys will either be rebranded by Sports Traider, which gives disadvantaged young people access to sports equipment. Anything which poses a danger will be shredded and the material recycled.
The Councils have a duty to protect consumers by ensuring that counterfeit and dangerous goods are kept off the market.
By choosing to donate to Sports Traider, the Councils are reducing the volume of waste going to landfill and preventing counterfeit goods from finding their way back to the black market.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, Councillor Nick Draper, said: “Merton Council is pleased to be working with Sports Traider and donating these items to a worthwhile charity that helps communities and promotes sports. I would also like to commend the work being done by our enforcement teams, who work tirelessly to ensure that counterfeit goods are taken off our streets.”
Cllr Martin Elengorn, Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Making sure that counterfeit goods are not being sold on the streets of our borough is important. They are usually low quality and quite often dangerous. By working with Sports Traider we are able to ensure that dangerous goods are always shredded or recycled and all money raised goes to worthwhile charities.”
Children and young people across Merton are being encouraged to give up fizzy drinks this month to reduce their sugar intake.
Merton Council is supporting Fizz Free February, which was pioneered by Southwark Council, to tackle obesity and tooth decay among children and young people.
The council’s public health team are raising awareness of the campaign at a stand in the Civic Centre this week.
Consuming too much sugar can result in a child gaining weight, which increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, some cancers and tooth decay.
In Merton, one in every five children starting primary school is overweight or obese and this increases to one in three pupils starting secondary school.
Eating too much sugar can also be very harmful for children’s teeth. Almost a quarter of children (22.5%) in Merton have one or more decayed, missing or filled teeth by the age of five and, for children aged between five and nine-years-old, tooth decay is the most common reason for admission to hospital.
Merton Council’s Member for Health, Councillor Tobin Byers said: “A fizzy drink can contain up to seven teaspoons of sugar, which is almost twice the total maximum recommended amount a young child should consume in a day, so pledging to go fizz free is an easy way to cut down sugar intake.
“We are encouraging children and young people to swap fizzy drinks for water, low fat milk or other drinks which contain no added sugar. As well as helping to prevent tooth decay, this simple change can stop children putting on weight which can increase their risk of developing serious illnesses when they are older.”
To join in, just complete the online pledge to give up fizzy drinks for 28 days and use the #GoFizzFree hashtag on Twitter.
Merton and Richmond Council’s Trading Standards teams have donated seized counterfeit clothes, shoes, toys and other goods to the charity Sports Traider.
Sports Traider are a registered charity who work closely with many Trading Standards departments, and brand holders alike. They provide access to sports equipment for disadvantaged people, be that through disability, social exclusion or poverty. The aim is to give them something to focus on, be part of a team and improve self-esteem.
The items which are mostly counterfeit goods include rugby scarfs, boots, trainers, jewellery, toys and tobacco. Sports Traider, will either rebrand the clothes or shred and reuse the material. There is even a use for the tobacco, with it being used to make compost!
All of the money they raise is ploughed into schemes helping disabled and disadvantaged people locally to gain employment, training and sporting opportunities. They have also recently helped wounded and sick ex-military personnel through a sports rehabilitation programme.
The Council has a duty to protect consumers by ensuring that counterfeit and dangerous goods are kept off the market.
Counterfeit goods pose a serious safety risk to consumers; jewellery often contains dangerous levels of nickel and other harmful substances, while the toys have not undergone safety testing so pose many risks, such as choking or cutting on sharp edges.
By choosing to donate to Sports Traider, the Council is actively reducing the volume of waste going to landfill and keeps the items from ending back up on the black market.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, Councillor Nick Draper, said: “Merton Council is pleased to be working with Sports Traider and donating these items to a worthwhile charity that helps communities and promotes sports. I would also like to commend the work being done by our enforcement teams, who work tirelessly to ensure that counterfeit goods are taken off our streets.”
Merton Council has been praised by Ofsted inspectors for its effective and timely work to protect the borough’s most vulnerable children.
The inspection focused on the work by the council’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), and other safeguarding schemes, to identify the risks children face and create plans to meet their needs. The inspectors noted the MASH was continuing its strong work; previously recognised in the ‘Good with Outstanding features’ rating of Merton Children’s Services awarded in 2017.
The report, published today, praised the council for further enhancing its early help and support work and described the assessments of the needs of children as being of ‘exceptionally high quality’. The inspectors noted that children’s views ‘are clearly listened to and acted on’.
The inspectors acknowledged improvements made by the department since the last full inspection in 2017 and earmarked areas for the service to work upon to make continual enhancements.
Following a two-day the visit in January, the inspectors noted: “MASH is well established, with effective multi-agency engagement, and partners contributions lead to timely and proportionate responses to the risks identified at the time of referral.”
“Assessments are comprehensive and analytical, and lead to clear plans that help to improve children’s and families’ circumstances. Social workers are supported and supervised effectively by experienced managers, so that work progresses in a timely way.”
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Kelly Braund, said: “Keeping our most vulnerable children safe and ensuring they receive effective and timely support is of utmost importance to us.”
“We are pleased that Ofsted has recognised the work of MASH and our other safeguarding schemes, and we are committed to continually drive forward improvements to ensure all children in Merton have the protection they need.”
“This report is a great testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff. It also reflects the strong work that we deliver in partnership with our schools, voluntary sector partners, the police, NHS and of course our parents and carers.”
Link to the full report: https://files.api.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50054677
Merton Council has been chosen to pilot a new approach to give children coming into the care system better mental health assessments.
Merton is one of nine local authorities selected to take part in the two-year pilot, which is funded by the Department for Education, and run by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, along with a consortium of partners including Action for Children, Research in Practice and the Child Outcomes Research Consortium.
The pilot will conclude with an evaluation and the findings will be shared with other councils across the country.
The announcement was made during Children’s Mental Health Week, which runs from 4 -10 February.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Kelly Braund, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to take part in such an important pilot, which has the potential to provide significantly better support to some of our most vulnerable young people at a very difficult point in their lives.
“Nationally, too many children come into our care with mental health issues which have gone undiagnosed and better mental health assessments will ensure that we can provide support tailored to each child’s needs. There is a strong link between a child’s mental and physical health, so improving their wellbeing can also benefit their overall health.”
Director of Research in Practice, Dez Holmes, said: “The calibre of applications received showed local areas are making great strides towards improving the mental health assessments for children entering care through innovative practices, partnership working, as well as a strong operational and strategic commitment to improving the lives and outcomes of children and young people. Areas selected for this project demonstrated a high level of expertise and commitment to innovation and we are delighted to be working with them on this important project.”
The Head of Service, for Specialist Trauma and Maltreatment at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Sheila Redfern, said: “We’re excited to begin working with sites on this important project. A new assessment framework is to be introduced, with the child or young person at the heart of these assessments. The approach will be more relational, include the young person’s carer, and bring together views of those around the child. The aim is to increase awareness of the level of the young person’s mental health needs and create a shared understanding of these needs across the important people in the child’s network.”