NEW News from Merton Council
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.”
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:
0800 111 999
UK Power Networks:
0800 31 63 105
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
Wimbledon Park Councillor Janice Howard was unanimously elected to serve as the next Mayor of Merton at a special Mayor Making ceremony on Wednesday 15 May.
The new Mayor took over the role from Lower Morden ward representative, Councillor Mary Curtin who served as Mayor of Merton for the past year.
Councillor Howard, who was elected to Merton Council in 2010, has lived in the borough since 1990. The mum-of-two, who served on the borough’s Health and Wellbeing Board for the past year is passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles to improve the lives of residents.
Councillor Howard, said: “I feel greatly honoured and immensely proud to be able to serve as the Mayor of Merton and follow in the footsteps of the great many Mayors before me.
I hope, during the coming year, to be able to continue to spread the messages on how a few simple lifestyle changes can really impact positively on everyone’s quality of life.
I am also really looking forward to visiting and meeting residents across all the different parts of the borough. Ever since I first arrived in Merton I have been really impressed by the generosity of local people to get involved with voluntary work, to help the most vulnerable in our community.”
During her long career in corporate conference and events management, Councillor Howard also successfully studied for, and achieved a Master’s degree in operations management.
She said: “I didn’t go to University as a youngster but studied later when I was a working mum so I am passionate about spreading the word that it is never too late to learn new things.”
The new Mayor will be supported in the forthcoming year by her Deputy Mayor, Councillor Edward Foley and her consorts will be her husband Andrew Howard, supported by a their two grown up children Benedict and Isabella Howard. Councillor Howard’s two charities for the coming year are to be Macmillan Cancer Support and Faith in Action.
A by-election for Cannon Hill Ward will take place on Thursday 20 June, following the resignation of Councillor Mark Kenny.
The nomination process for candidates opens tomorrow. and the deadline is at 4pm on Thursday 23 May. The candidates will be announced on Friday 24 May.
To be able to vote, residents must be registered to do so. Applications to register to vote in this by-election must be received by midnight on Tuesday 4 June.
For residents unable to visit a polling station, postal voting application forms are available to download from the council’s website or by contacting the council on 020 8545 4901. Applications to vote by post must be received by 5pm on Wednesday 5 June.
Residents who want to apply to appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf must do this by 5pm on Wednesday 12 June.
Merton Council’s Chief Executive and Returning Officer Ged Curran said: “Following the resignation of Councillor Mark Kenny, I have been asked by the local government electors to hold a by-election for Cannon Hill Ward so that the electorate can vote for a new Cannon Hill councillor. As returning officer, I can announce that a Cannon Hill by-election will take place on Thursday 20 June.”
Merton Council is to provide a future for two lone children to end their ordeal in refugee camps and has pledged to provide sanctuary for 50 unaccompanied child refugees, for a planned humanitarian scheme.
The council is backing the Our Turn Campaign, run by, independent charity Safe Passage, which is working to end the tragedy of children trapped in appalling and dangerous refugee camps across Europe. Under a new proposed resettlement plan, Merton Council, could accommodate 50 unaccompanied children over 10 years, subject Government funding.
In response to a specific request made by Safe Passage, Merton Council has also pledged to immediately welcome two children under Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016, known as ‘the Dubs amendment’, legislation which provides for unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe to be relocated to the United Kingdom. The Council made the pledges at the South London Citizens Accountability Assembly held in Southwark Cathedral on Tuesday.
Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Kelly Braund, said: “We are delighted to announce that Merton Council has pledged to provide safe homes for 50 children as part of Safe Passage’s Our Turn campaign. We passionately believe every child deserves to have the chance to build a bright future and so we are keen to do our part to make that a reality. We are 100 per cent behind Safe Passage’s tireless work to secure safe, legal routes for some of the most vulnerable youngsters trapped in appalling and dangerous conditions in refugee camps. No child should have to suffer in the pursuit of sanctuary in the UK. The vital work of Safe Passage needs to expand if all of the children who are eligible for resettlement are to reach safety.”
Eleanor Harrison OBE, the Interim Chief Executive Officer at Safe Passage, said; “We are delighted that Merton Council will soon be welcoming two refugee children, who are waiting to travel to the UK from Europe under the Dubs resettlement scheme. After years in limbo, these children will finally be able to start rebuilding their childhoods in safety, as part of the Merton community.”
EDITORS NOTE: Safe Passage is an independent charity that combines strategic litigation, case work, community organising and advocacy to open safe, legal routes for children and young people those seeking sanctuary. For more information see www.safepassage.org.ukontinue
A series of roadshow events are being held across Merton during Foster Care Fortnight (13-26 May) to recruit more foster carers, particularly for siblings, teenagers and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
Each event will be an informal way to find out more about fostering from the council’s fostering team, who will provide information about the application process and the comprehensive support provided to foster carers by the council. A foster carer will also be at every roadshow to talk about their experiences of fostering and answer questions.
The Foster Care Fortnight roadshows will be held at the following locations:
- 13 May 6pm – 8pm Pizza Express, High Street, Wimbledon
- 15 May 10am -1pm Sainsbury’s, Morden
- 18 May 10.30am – 1.30pm Wimbledon Piazza
- 20 May 11am – 12.30pm Coco Beanz, Morden
- 22 May 6pm -7.30pm Morden Baptist Church
- 24 May 10.30am-1.30pm Sainsbury’s, Colliers Wood
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Kelly Braund, said: “In Merton, we believe that foster families change futures. Our foster carers come from a whole range of backgrounds, but what unites them all is a desire and ability to help children and young people in care to fulfil their potential.
“During Foster Care Fortnight, our foster care team have drop-in events for people to find out more about fostering and the support that the council offers to our foster families. So if you’re curious about how fostering works, are thinking about fostering in the future or have already decided you would like to foster – we’d be delighted to meet you.”
Anyone can foster a child, provided they are aged 21-years-old or over, have experience with children and young people, a spare bedroom and enough time, patience, resilience and understanding to take on the role.
Applications are welcomed from people from all backgrounds, regardless of whether they have their own children; their educational background, marital status or sexual orientation. Foster carers can own their own home or live in rented accommodation; work part-time or be in receipt of benefits and still be eligible to be paid as a foster carer.
Community leaders are holding an event to provide reassurance to residents about knife crime. The event also aims to raise awareness of the work being done to tackle knife crime and what support systems are in place for people affected by it.
So far, the police, Crimestoppers, Victim Support, Unique Talent and the council’s youth offending team have all confirmed they will be attending. Local businesses are being encouraged to join them and where possible, make pledges on action they will take to combat knife crime.
As well as presentations and networking, there will be a marketplace with a range of stalls run by organisations which are engaged in the prevention and detection of knife crime.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Engagement and Equalities, Councillor Edith Macauley, said: “Although Merton is one of the safest boroughs in London, we are aware that our residents are affected by knife crime and the fear of crime is a key concern for them.
“The council is working closely with our partners to ensure residents stay safe. This event is an opportunity to find out what organisations are doing to prevent knife crime, support victims and bring perpetrators to justice.”
The event will be held in Morden Baptist Church in Crown Lane, Morden, on Saturday 18 May between 9.30am and 12.30pm.
The event is open to all and attendees are asked to register in advance here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/communities-and-knife-crime-working-together-to-keep-merton-safe-tickets-59824104507
- If you have information about a crime that has taken place in your local area, contact the anonymous crime reporting service Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
If you have been affected by a crime and require help, support, or advice, you can speak to the charity Victim Support confidentially on 020 7801 1777.
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.