NEW News from Merton Council
Concern rises as more than half of Merton’s EU residents have yet to be given the right to stay after Brexit
‘Don’t lose your right to stay’ is the message Merton Council wants to get out to its European Union residents, amidst concern that more than half are yet to apply to stay after Brexit and around a third of those that have applied nationally are being refused a full right to remain.
The council is urging all residents from European Union countries who want to stay in the country if it leaves the EU, to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme as soon as possible. The government have said that all EU nationals must apply for Settled Status to keep their right to remain in the country and secure their rights to vote, get free medical care and welfare benefits.
The latest official figures, from the Government’s quarterly statistics up until June this year, reveal that of the 25,000 EU citizens living in Merton less than half have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). As many of them carry out important jobs that benefit the borough’s economy, or have close personal relationships with British citizens living in the borough, the council is concerned about the impact on the local community if they are not given full status. The council is also concerned about the number of applicants nationally who are being refused full status and being given only the reduced pre-settled status instead.
In an effort to increase the number making successful applications, the council has commissioned specialist services to give residents free support and advice on the scheme. Residents can access free help to make EUSS applications from either Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth or South West London Law Centres.
The council is also flagging up that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal the government have said the deadline for applying to EU Settlement Scheme will be brought forward to 31 December 2020.
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Mark Allison, said: “We consider that everyone who lives in Merton is helping to make it a great place for families. We’re concerned that our European friends, neighbours and family members in Merton are not getting the Settled Status their work in our community deserves.
“We do not want our community broken up, and are urging all residents who want to remain living here to apply as soon as possible. If they miss the deadline and Brexit takes place they may no longer be able to legally live here and contribute to our great community.
“We understand there are already some delays at the Home Office for more complex cases and are very concerned about applications being turned down or given the incorrect status.
“We don’t want our neighbours and loved ones to lose the right to remain here, their right to vote or their rights to free medical care and welfare benefits and are offering free specialist advice services to support those who need help with their application.
“They have helped make our borough a great place for everyone to live in, and it is only right that we are here to help them when they need it too.”
For more information:
Visit : www.merton.gov.uk/brexit
For access help and advice contact Citizens Advice Merton by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 8687 9297
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The EU Settlement Scheme quarterly statistics show up until June the number of EU nationals from Merton who made applications was 8,000.
There is no fee for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme
Residents who are EU, EEA or Swiss citizens can apply to the EUSS to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.
The government have said the deadline for applying to the EU Settlement Scheme will be 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Merton Council is proud to be ranked joint second in London and among the top authorities across the country by Friends of the Earth for its climate change action, but recognises much more work must be done to avert a climate catastrophe.
New research by the global environment group, to chart the most climate-friendly areas in the country, gave Merton a performance rating of 80 per cent for work in response to the climate change emergency. Friends of the Earth assessed all councils in a number of categories including renewable energy, public transport, lift sharing, energy efficiency, waste recycling and tree cover.
In July, the council unanimously agreed to step up its commitment to combating carbon emissions and rising temperatures by declaring a Climate Change Emergency. Under the declaration the council pledged to achieve carbon neutrality for the whole of Merton by 2050 and to make every effort for the council to be a carbon neutral organisation by 2030.
Councillor Byers, the Cabinet Member responsible for the environment, said: “We’re delighted our work so far on climate change has been recognised by such a leading environmental organisation. However, we completely accept that we urgently need to ramp-up our efforts to help avert a catastrophe from extreme weather conditions. We’re taking action, but we can’t change things on our own.
“We’ve had a fantastic response from the community to our climate change emergency declaration, and many highly committed people with a vast amount of professional expertise have now come forward to be in our Climate Action Working Group. The group is now working on a plan to help us to meet our ambitious targets.
“Our climate change work for future generations also aims to make the borough a cleaner, greener and healthier place for our residents to enjoy now. Like Friends of the Earth, we also recognise, that while councils and communities working together play a vital role, we do need the Government to take bolder steps to ensure the whole country is carbon neutral by 2050.”
Merton Council has a long history of taking action to improve air quality and encouraging healthier lifestyles, dating back to the development of the Merton Rule in 2003. The council’s recent strategy, which has been in place since 2014, has already made a positive impact on reducing carbon emissions. Since 2009, the council, as an organisation, has cut harmful emissions from its work by 35 per cent.
The council is already taking a number of measures to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging residents to make more journeys by bike, foot or public transport. This has included the creation of including six kilometres of new cycle routes and 651 more cycle parking spaces over the last six years. In September, Merton Council hosted a Car Free Event in Morden and supported Play Street events across the borough by waiving the fee for road closures.
Work to support the switch towards more sustainable fuels includes the ongoing installation of charging points for electric-powered vehicles. Merton, which currently has 101 publicly accessible electric fast chargers operating, with another 36 expected to be installed by the end of 2019, is among the top boroughs in London for this expansion. Ongoing projects to help clean up the air includes action to ensure drivers turn off their engines while waiting outside schools.
The key areas of for action moving forward are set to be switching to low carbon energy sources in buildings, reducing car journeys, encouraging the use of electric vehicles, the consumption of sustainable products, green investment and the creation of green spaces across the borough.
Join us to tackle climate change and improve air quality, stay updated on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. For more information on how everyone can get involved visit the www.merton.gov.uk/climatechange.
Notes: Friends of the Earth sourced data by local authority area on a range of issues relevant to climate change to assess how councils are performing: https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/download/league-table-local-authority-performance-climate-change
The majority of data is from official government sources. To see the full methodology, go to: https://takeclimateaction.uk/climate-action/methodology-local-authority-data-project
Merton Council is celebrating Recycle Week with new data showing that recycling rates in the borough are at record levels, following the introduction of a new recycling and rubbish collection service.
The latest data shows that Merton is striving to achieve its stretched recycling target of 48%. In May, the recycling rate increased to a record 47%. This puts Merton on track to make it into the top quartile of all 33 London local authorities for recycling by the end of the year.
A key aim of the new collection service, which introduced alternate weekly collections and wheelie bins, was to increase the borough’s recycling rate from 37% to 45% within 12 months and a stretched target of 48%.
The latest data, which covers April to August, shows:
- Food waste recycling is up by 75%, compared to the same period last year – before the service change began. This is an average of 473 tonnes per month – equivalent to the weight of more than two blue whales.
- A 14% reduction in the total amount of waste produced has also had a major impact. This is 2,887 tonnes less than the same five months last year – equivalent to the weight of a hippopotamus – and generates significant financial savings.
The general waste is disposed of through the energy recovery facility at Beddington, rather than being sent to landfill, creating green energy in the form of electricity.
This year’s Recycle Week theme is Recycling. It’s in our own hands, which aims to encourage everyone to recycle more items from around their homes.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, Councillor Tobin Byers, said: “Recycling rates in Merton are at record levels and I would like to thank residents, who have significantly reduced the amount of waste they produce and recycled more of their rubbish.
“The introduction of the new recycling and rubbish collection service was the council’s largest service change in recent times and residents are quickly realising the potential of separating their recycling and presenting it in the right container on the right day for collection. This Recycle Week, it is really encouraging to see that residents are taking recycling into their own hands and recycling more than ever before.”
New venues are set to replace some of the schools which usually have to close during elections so they can be used as polling stations.
Although some schools are able to remain open while residents are voting, others are forced to close for the day during an election because of safeguarding issues. During the European election on 23 May, 13 schools had to shut for the day.
The council is currently carrying out a review about polling places in the two parliamentary constituencies in Merton – Mitcham & Morden and Wimbledon.
As part of the review, a public consultation was carried out. This ran from 12 July until Monday (9 September) and 68 responses were received.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools and Adult Education, Councillor Eleanor Stringer, said: “Thank you to everyone who responded to the consultation about polling districts and polling places. We will review all the feedback we have received thoroughly before it goes to Council for a final decision.
“In the meantime, we have made it a priority to find alternative places to schools to use as polling stations and have already identified some other potential buildings. We initiated the search in response to feedback from parents who wanted to prevent their children’s education from being disrupted on polling days.”
The Council is currently in discussions with potential replacement venues for more than five of the schools, as well as local ward councillors in those areas. The search is actively continuing for further sites which could host polling stations instead of schools.
The results of the consultation will go to the Standards and General Purposes Committee, before Council is asked to approve proposed new venues as alternatives to schools at their meeting in November.
If there is a snap general election before Council in November, we will look to trial these new arrangements where feasible, in order to keep as many schools open as possible.
At a meeting last night, Merton Council’s Cabinet reconfirmed their commitment to improve air quality and public health across the borough.
Merton has been designated as an air quality management area, which means more must be done to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide. Nearly two thirds of this main pollutant is emitted from vehicles and is particularly harmful for older people and children’s health.
The council wants to encourage people to make more journeys on foot, by bike or on public transport, rather than driving. To support people to change their behaviour, the council is introducing a new parking charges system, which will apply to controlled parking zones, public car parks, on street parking and parking permits.
Since the Cabinet agreed, at their meeting in July, to introduce the new parking charges, the decision was called in by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission. One of the two call in requests was upheld and resulted in additional consultation being carried out to ensure the council’s process on equality analysis was fully delivered. This was in addition to the public consultation earlier this year, which resulted in more than 3,000 representations.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “Over the last month we have carried out further consultation with groups and organisations impacted by the changes in response to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission, we have redoubled our efforts to engage with them and a number of responses were reported to cabinet for their consideration.
“The council has a responsibility to improve air quality and promote active and healthier lifestyles by supporting people to reduce their car use. Parking charges are just one aspect of our Air Quality Action Plan which is set to deliver huge benefits for public health while reducing air pollution.”
The council has already introduced a variety of walking and cycling initiatives, including six kilometres of new cycle routes and 651 more cycle parking spaces over the last six years. So far, 101 electric vehicle charging points have been installed across the borough, with an additional 36 planned by the end of the year. There are also car clubs in the borough, which give drivers access to cars without the cost or responsibility of owning one.
Income from parking charges can only be spent on running the parking service and transport projects, including filling in potholes, resurfacing borough roads and new cycling schemes. It also goes towards the Freedom Pass – London’s concessionary travel scheme. Merton has spent around £27million on the Freedom Pass during the last three years.
Merton awarded share of £4m for Internet of Things project to help people live better, healthier lives and to generate economic growth
The South London Partnership (SLP), a group of five boroughs including Merton, has been awarded £4 million by London Councils to create an Internet of Things.
This is a data sharing system which aims to improve transport, the environment, and people’s health, as well as boosting economic growth.
The funding will enable Merton and the other four councils, Croydon, Kingston, Richmond and Sutton, which make up the SLP, to work across borough boundaries on a variety of projects to improve people’s quality of life, so that they remain healthy and independent for longer. Harnessing new technology will also deliver significant savings to borough budgets.
The London Councils fund has been awarded to the SLP as part of the 2018-19 Business Rate Retention Strategic Investment Pot (SIP).
The project will pilot new ways to obtain new data insights using internet-connected sensors, with minimal human intervention. It will involve engagement with businesses and residents to understand what could be measured to support economic growth. The project aims to reduce inequalities locally, encourage growth that minimises the east/west divide in the borough and ensure there is a benefit for all residents and businesses.
Examples of potential projects that could be developed include:
- Understanding where people travel to and from, the routes they take, and what times they undertake their journeys
- Supporting planning departments to encourage the right type of development in communities and enable regeneration
- Combining air quality and location data to see how many people’s health is affected in certain areas – this can help local authorities make plans to reduce pollutants, resulting in cleaner and healthier places
Councillor Mark Allison, Deputy Leader of Merton Council and Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “This is an exciting and innovative opportunity which has great potential to help bridge the gap between residents in less affluent areas and the rest of the borough. By working together across South London we can explore new ways of using technology to improve life for residents. As a business-like council, we are pleased that this initiative will also boost economic development by supporting local business.”
Notes to editors :
Funds from the London Business Rates Pilot have been awarded to the Partnership, which comprises the councils of Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Sutton, as part of the 2018-19 Business Rate Retention Strategic Investment Pot (SIP) which is administered by the City of London Corporation.
Ultimately, a national local government IoT network and platform could be developed, including the safe and secure sharing of data between councils, universities and the public for the benefit of all.
Sutton Council has been selected to lead the project on behalf of all other South London Partnership borough.
The project will also help realise the Mayor of London’s Smarter London Together roadmap for enhancing digital leadership and skills.
A rogue builder who sought to evade justice by leaving the county has been jailed for more than four years, following a successful prosecution led by Merton Council’s trading standards officers.
Cold-calling Joseph Horner conned homeowners, on their own doorsteps, into paying hundreds of pounds for “shoddy” building works, many of which were unnecessary or carried out to an inadequate standard. The fraudster led a group who targeted elderly and vulnerable residents across Merton, Wandsworth and Slough over a five-month period in 2012. The victims, some of whom have now died, were pressured into handing over their cash for the over-priced building works.
One resident was told a parapet wall and chimney stack were in a dangerous condition and Horner commenced work without her agreement. An inspection by Merton Council’s trading standards officers found the unnecessary works had actually caused damage to the property. Another resident cold-called by Horner was told a roof tile was missing from his home. Offering to undertake works for £300 cash and provide a 20 year guarantee, the conman also claimed the roof had multiple problems which could lead to its collapse.
Trading standards and Met Police officers arrested Horner in Mount Road, Wimbledon Park in August 2012. He was bailed to attend a Crown Court but as he failed to appear an arrest warrant was issued. Horner left the country, however, he was arrested when he returned in May this year and appeared at Kingston Crown Court, where he was remanded in custody to face trial.
Horner pleaded guilty to Fraud Act offences at the same court on Friday 23 August and was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison. The 51-year-old, from Slough was also sentenced to the maximum six month sentence for a Bail Act offence which is to be served consecutively. Although the total financial loss by victims was £6,650, a compensation order was not made as the defendant has no money.
Cabinet Member for Commerce, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, said: “I hope this case sends out strong warning that rogue traders who con residents into paying for shoddy or unnecessary works in Merton will be brought to justice.
“Many residents don’t come forward, or even tell family and friends that they’ve been victims of doorstep fraudsters due to fear, embarrassment, or because they don’t realise they’ve been conned.
“Callous rogue traders ruin lives and so I’d urge anyone who is suspicious of work being carried out in their neighbourhood to contact their local trading standards department or the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.
“Our advice is never to do business on the doorstep, no matter how good the deal sounds.”
Notes for editors
Merton Council is part of The Regulatory Services Partnership which also serves Richmond-upon-Thames and Wandsworth Councils.
The trading standards service works in partnership with other agencies and community groups to promote awareness of rogue traders and financial scams. If you are involved in a community group and would like a presentation or advice, please contact the team by calling 020 8548 3025.
The CAB Consumer Helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm on telephone number 03454 040506
Pupils and their teachers at schools across the borough were celebrating their GCSE results today.
72.8% of Merton pupils have achieved grades 9 – 4 (9 being the highest and 4 a standard pass) in both English and maths.
Schools across Merton achieved an impressive set of results in core subjects:
- At Raynes Park High School, 60.3% of pupils achieved grades 9-4 in both English and maths.
- At Ricards Lodge High School, 76% of pupils achieved grades 9 – 4 in both English and maths. This is an increase of nearly 11% compared to 2018.
- 74% of pupils at Rutlish School achieved grades 9 – 4 in both English and maths. This is an increase of nearly 4% compared to last year.
- At St Mark’s Academy, the pass rate for English and maths grades 9-4 is 52.6%.
- At Ursuline High School, 82% of pupils achieved grades 9 – 4 in both English and maths.
- At Wimbledon College, 80% of pupils achieved grades 9 – 4 in both English and maths. This is an increase of nearly 4% compared to last year.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools, Councillor Eleanor Stringer, who visited Ricards Lodge High School in Wimbledon, said: “It was a privilege to be invited to see pupils finding out their GCSE results and congratulate them on all their hard work. It reminded me of when I received my GCSE results and the excitement of looking forward to the future. I wish them luck whatever their next steps, particularly those staying on at our excellent post-16 provision in Merton.
“I also enjoyed meeting some of the dedicated teaching staff, whose hard work has helped to ensure that all our secondary schools have been rated as Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.”
Notes to editors
This data does not include results for the Harris Academy schools in the borough.
The A level results are out and thousands of students and their teachers across Merton are celebrating today.
Secondary schools in Merton have continued to perform very well during a year when, nationally, the proportion of students achieving the highest grades at A level has decreased.
More than three quarters (77.5%) of Merton students achieved A*-C grades, which is above the national average of 75.8%.
Schools across the borough achieved an impressive set of results:
- At Raynes Park High School, the proportion of pupils achieving A*-B grades was up by 11% this year.
- Students in the combined sixth form for Ricards Lodge High School and Rutlish School achieved 57% A* to B grades and 84% A* to C grades, both of which are above the national averages.
- At Ursuline High School, the proportion of A* to B grades achieved was 58%, and for A* to C grades was 86%, both of which are above the national averages.
- At Wimbledon College, students achieved 99% A* to E grades, above the national average.
- At St Mark’s Academy, results at A*-A grades have improved this year by 3%.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Kelly Braund, who visited Raynes Park High School this morning, said: “Congratulations to everyone who received their A level results today, I can’t wait to see what brilliant things you all go on to do next.”
“This is a fantastic set of results for our secondary schools, all of which have been rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted. We know that families move to Merton for the education we offer and the hard work of teaching staff at our high-performing schools has shown why, as they support these young people to get the best start in life.”
Notes to editors
This data does not include results for the two Harris Academy schools in the borough.
Merton Council has successfully prosecuted a landlord for flouting the law that protects the health and safety of private tenants.
Mr Fouad Ahmad, from Streatham pleaded guilty to failing to register a house in multiple occupancy, known as an HMO, at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court in Battersea on Tuesday 6 August.
The 48-year-old was handed a fine of £1,965 for the breach of Section 72(1) of The Housing Act 2004 and was ordered to pick up Merton Council’s bill for costs which was £1,750 in addition to a surcharge of £196.
Following a tip off expressing concerns over a two-storey house in Beecholme Avenue in Mitcham an investigation was launched by Merton Council’s Housing Enforcement Officers.
The officers discovered that despite the fact more than five unrelated housemates were sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities at the terraced house, Mr Ahmed had not applied for an HMO licence. Mr Ahmed was prosecuted under updated terms of The Housing Act 2004 – which since last October have stipulated that all HMO’s in the borough with five or more people making up two or more households must be registered as an HMO. Previously the requirement for a HMO licence only applied to houses of three storeys or more.
Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “As a council we are determined to tackle bad landlords and we hope this case sends out a strong message that the council will take tough action on any landlord operating in an illegal way in Merton. We will not hesitate to take robust enforcement action against those breaching their responsibilities under HMO legislation especially since the important change in legislation last October. We are also undertaking further work on introducing a landlord licensing scheme and a paper will be coming to cabinet in September.
“Whilst most landlords across Merton provide a good standard of accommodation for private renters and comply with legislation, there is a minority of rogue landlords who seek to profiteer by cramming people in sub-standard homes, provide inadequate facilities or who breach safety standards. We will proactively investigate suspected breaches of the law which protects tenants and will not hesitate to prosecute or issue penalties against offenders.”
“Not registering a HMO is a very serious offence, as if the property is not properly managed the safety of tenants is at risk. I would strongly encourage tenants or neighbours who suspect a landlord is not adhering to the rules to report it to the council.”
NOTES TO EDITOR
Mr Fouad Ahmad, Hoadley Road in Streatham
As the new football season kicks off on Saturday, the Leader of Merton Council is looking forward to welcoming AFC Wimbledon home to their brand new stadium next year.
Preliminary construction work has already begun on the stadium in Plough Lane, Wimbledon, with a capacity of 9,000 which can be expanded to 20,000 by creating a bowl-shaped arena. The new stadium will be at the centre of a development including 600 much-needed homes, shops and a squash and fitness club.
While AFC Wimbledon are playing their first matches of 2019/20, the Council has teamed up with the AFC Wimbledon Foundation during the summer holidays to run sports, including football, at Phipps Bridge Youth Centre. They will also be helping to tackle food poverty by organising cooking classes for families and serving nutritious lunches to children during the school break.
Cllr Alambritis said: “It has always been our goal to bring AFC Wimbledon home to Plough Lane and we are delighted that this is the last season that fans will have to travel out of the borough for home games as well as away matches.
“As well as cheering AFC Wimbledon on this summer, young footballers will have the chance to practice their skills on the pitch with the AFC Wimbledon Foundation. The foundation are also helping to tackle food poverty by ensuring that some of the most deprived children in the borough can tuck into healthy lunches during the school holidays.”
Notes to editors
- Representatives from AFC Wimbledon, Merton Council and GRA Acquisitions Limited sign the Section 106 agreement on 13 December 2017.
- Merton Council’s planning committee unanimously approved AFC Wimbledon’s and Galliard’s application to build a new stadium on 10 December 2015.
- Mayor of London Sadiq Khan formally handed back to Merton Council the powers to progress AFC Wimbledon’s application for the football stadium in August 2016.
- Dons Trust, The Wider Interests of Football Limited is the company which owns AFC Wimbledon. It is, in turn, owned by fans of the Club.
- Merton Catalyst LLP is a joint venture between Galliard Homes and Catalyst Developments [Wimbledon] Ltd.
- On Monday 24 December Merton Catalyst LLP (the joint venture of Galliard Homes and Catalyst Developments [Wimbledon] Ltd) officially transferred ownership of the land on which the stadium will be built to a subsidiary of the Dons Trust, The Wider Interests of Football Limited, meaning AFC Wimbledon began 2019 as owners of the freehold to that land.
- The League One club is currently based in Kingsmeadow in Kingston.
- Find out more information about the stadium development here www.ploughlanestadium.co.uk
The Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, has vowed to continue to “fight” for St Helier Hospital to retain all its services.
Cllr Alambritis has voiced his concern for the future of the hospital following the submission of the Improving Healthcare Together 2020-2030 draft pre-consultation Business Case to NHS England for Assurance. The document, which has not been published by the NHS, ranks three options for the future of the Trust, with downgrading both St Helier and Epsom Hospitals and building a new hospital in Sutton coming out on top.
Cllr Alambritis said: “We have a long-standing commitment to ensure that residents of Merton have access to a full range of NHS acute services on the St Helier Hospital site, including a blue light A&E and consultant-led maternity service.
“We could not be clearer in our opposition to any closure or downgrade of services at St Helier Hospital. I’m extremely disappointed that the Trust and the CCG appear to prefer an option that would remove essential services at St Helier. This is despite the overwhelming evidence of local need, and the clear opposing voice of Merton’s residents through the various engagement processes undertaken to date.”
The Leader expressed concern about the impact on communities around the existing St Helier Hospital site. He said: “Attempts to relocate acute services away from St Helier in favour of a more affluent area, such as Belmont or the Royal Marsden site, would be incompatible with the statutory duty on the Clinical Commissioning Group, which is about tackling health inequalities. Accessing acute health services will be significantly more difficult for our residents who suffer the greatest level of inequality. In addition, the potential increase in demand for other providers, particularly for St George’s in Tooting, as a result of any downgrade of provision at St Helier Hospital, is of great concern, as a lot of Merton residents rely on that hospital too. We will continue to do all we can to fight for St Helier Hospital to retain its full suite of services and to get the investment it needs.”
Merton Council is actively encouraging residents to hold Play Street events and street parties to celebrate World Car Free Day by waiving the fees for temporary street closures.
Residents are urged to apply now to get their road closed to traffic on Sunday 22 September so children can enjoy playing safely in the street and everyone can benefit from the cleaner air.
Play Streets events can be organised by groups of neighbours who agree to close their streets temporarily, for through traffic, to create community play areas.
The temporary road closures also provide a wonderful opportunity for people to get together and help reduce the amount of pollution across the borough.
Merton Council is backing Car Free Day, which aims to liberate the streets from the dominance of vehicles, as part of its ongoing drive to make the borough a cleaner, greener place, and encourage more active lifestyles.
The day flags up the dangers of toxic air from vehicles and encourages everyone to ditch the car and enjoy walking, cycling or public transport to get around instead.
To support residents taking part the Council is waiving the fees for road closures for Play Street events and street parties and is providing support and advice for organisers.
Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and the Environment Councillor Tobin Byers, said: “I am delighted that Merton is taking part in Car Free Day as it is a great chance to liberate the streets from the dominance of cars and other vehicles. We are keen to support residents hosting Play Street events as they provide a wonderful opportunity for children to have fun getting active in cleaner air and for neighbours to come together and enjoy themselves.”
“We want as many children as possible across Merton to take over the streets and play freely and safely. We hope people will enjoy seeing their street being transformed into community fun space so much they will go on to make these special moments regular events.”
The Council is highlighting that people should still be able to get to their homes by car, during the temporary road closures, as usually residents act as wardens to allow their neighbours to access the street.
Residents have until Friday 30 August to make applications. For advice and support on making applications and organising Play Street events visit www.merton.gov.uk/playstreets
Merton Council’s cabinet has agreed to fund 14 projects across the borough, totalling nearly £1 million.
The funding for the projects is from Merton Council’s Neighbourhood Fund – which comes from the charges the council makes to developers to help fund the infrastructure or community facilities, needed to support new homes and businesses in the borough.
A key component of awarding funding was ensuring that projects will contribute to Merton’s community plans and priorities. More than £405,000 of funding has been earmarked for projects that help address income, health, and skills gaps between the east and west of the borough.
A number of ‘bridging the gap’ projects have had funding agreed. These include Supporting Commonside Community Development Trust’s projects for residents on the Pollards Hill estate and in east Mitcham; a Children School and Families Employability Programme to increase access to the labour market for youngsters; façade improvements to the Bramcote Avenue shopping parade in Mitcham; and the Move More Mitcham project to support those at risk of developing a mental health disorder.
A number of projects will also help support the demands that Wimbledon Stadium development in Plough Lane will place on the borough, including renovation the facades of the Haydon Road shopping parade, and the improvements to Haydon’s Road recreation grounds.
Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “We received many bids for funding in this round from residents, businesses and community groups, and we would like to thank everyone for their submissions. Our decisions were made taking into account our community plan priorities, which includes ‘bridging the gap’, and we believe they will make a substantial difference to our neighbourhoods along with the lives of residents.
Our popular and successful shopping parade improvement scheme will also help restore attractiveness and vibrancy to some of the borough’s most neglected parades as well as boost trade and employment opportunities.”
The 14 projects to be awarded CIL Neighbourhood Funding in 2019/20
- Supporting Commonside Community Development Trust £130,000
- Merton Priority Chapter House performance space £46,430.
- Merton Park Green Walks – new surface on footpath £13,000.
- Revitalisation of Haydon’s Road Recreation grounds £32,500
- Signage for South Mitcham Community Centre £1,500
- Deen City Farm £40,435
- Shopping Parade façade improvements £274,000
- Shopping Parades programme management (3 years) £165,000
- Polka Theatre redevelopment £95,000
- Employability Programme £60,904
- Air pollution mitigation campaign – encouraging pupil involvement in STARS schools accreditation scheme £27,233
- Move More Mitcham £27,820
- Sustainable Merton Neighbourhood Champions £30,000
- The Library of Things £37,320 to develop an equipment borrowing scheme
Notes for editors:
- On 15th July Merton’s Cabinet awarded 14 projects a total of £981,142 from its Community Infrastructure Levy(CIL) Neighbourhood Fund. Link to Merton Cabinet agenda and reports https://democracy.merton.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=146&MId=3396&Ver=4
- The projects were selected from the borough-wide consultation feedback following a six week consultation in the Spring.
- Since 2014 the council has collected more than £3 million to for CIL Neighbourhood Fund projects in Merton of which £1.9 million has been approved / spent in previous years.
- Link to Merton’s CIL website https://www.merton.gov.uk/planning-and-buildings/planning/community-infrastructure-levy/spending-the-levy including Neighbourhood Fund assessment criteria
- Under the national rules CIL cash must be spent on local projects which support the demands new developments bring and meet the needs of neighbourhoods. The council also assessed each bid, with its agreed criteria, to ensure projects will contribute to its community plans and priorities
Merton Council’s Cabinet has agreed to take action to improve air quality and encourage more active and healthier lifestyles in the borough by encouraging people to make more journeys by bike and on foot.
To support people to change their behaviour, the council is introducing a new parking charges system. The new charges will apply to controlled parking zones, public car parks, on street parking and parking permits in Merton, which has been designated as an air quality management area. This means more must be done to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide. Nearly two thirds of this main pollutant is emitted from vehicles and pollution levels are highest in town centres across the borough. Breathing in polluted air affects the brain as well as the lungs and is worse for older people and for children.
To help reduce air pollution and encourage people to be more active and lead healthier lives, the council has already introduced a variety of walking and cycling initiatives, including six kilometres of new cycle routes and 651 more cycle parking spaces over the last six years. So far, 101 electric vehicle charging points have been installed across the borough, with an additional 36 planned by the end of the year. There are also car clubs in the borough, which give drivers access to cars without the cost or responsibility of owning one.
However, currently in Merton, 42% of journeys are made by car, compared to 30% on foot, 3% by bike and 24% on public transport. Nearly two thirds (60%) of respondents to a public consultation about public health, air quality and parking charges agreed that the council should encourage motorists towards more active and sustainable modes of transport.
Proximity to public transport was one of the key criteria the council used to determine how to divide the borough into parking charges zones. Places with fewer connections will have lower parking charges than places which have plenty of public transport links. The boundaries of some of these zones have been changed, following the public consultation earlier this year, which received around 3,000 responses.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and the Environment, Councillor Tobin Byers said: “The council recognises its role to improve air quality by reducing demand for parking and cutting congestion by driving down car use. We also want to improve public health by making the healthy choice the easy choice – encouraging residents to make more journeys on foot or bike, rather than by car.”
He added: “Encouraging people to travel more sustainably is just one of a number of actions the council is taking to address air quality across the borough. Our Air Quality Action Plan – adopted in 2018 – included some 70 recommendations, and progress is being made on them all. We are committed to improving the quality or the air we breathe across the borough, and our new parking charges structure is just one element of that.”
The new parking charges are set to come into force during the autumn.
Income from parking charges can only be spent on running the parking service and transport projects, including filling in potholes, resurfacing borough roads and new cycling schemes. It also goes towards the Freedom Pass – London’s concessionary travel scheme. Merton has spent around £27million on the Freedom Pass during the last three years.
Merton Council has stepped up its commitment to combating carbon emissions and rising temperatures, by declaring a Climate Change Emergency.
The cross-party motion, signed by the four Group leaders and moved by Councillor Tobin Byers, Merton Council’s cabinet member responsible for health and the environment, was passed unanimously at the Council meeting on Wednesday 10 July. It called on the Council to declare a climate emergency and to develop an action in conjunction with businesses and residents to decarbonise the borough.
The council has committed to take a leadership role and join forces with the community to achieve carbon neutrality for the whole of Merton by 2050. The target is in line with advice given by the Government’s Committee on Climate Change and the Mayor of London’s ambitions.
Under the declaration the council has also pledged to make every effort to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2030. The council’s actions will involve work to reduce and decarbonise the energy used in all its 340 buildings, transport and contracted out services. Merton council has been working to reduce its emissions for some time, cutting them by 35 per cent since 2009 and the motion will build upon this work.
Residents, businesses and organisations are being urged to give their views on the priorities for the council’s climate change work and volunteer to be in the council’s Climate Emergency Working Group, which is to be formed. The group is to advise on the development of the council’s Climate Change Action Plan. The key areas of action are set to be switching to low carbon energy sources in buildings, reducing car journeys, encouraging the use of electric vehicles, the consumption of sustainable products, green investment and the creation of green spaces across the borough.
The declaration also recognises that the Government needs to take bolder steps to ensure the country can be carbon neutral by 2050, to protect the planet for future generations.
The cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and the Environment Councillor Byers, said: “The evidence on the impact of global warming is now undeniable. The scale of the challenge is unprecedented. I am delighted that the motion was supported by all four parties and was passed unanimously . We know climate change will impact negatively on the well-being of residents and the local economy. We must take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions, to keep the temperature rise below 1.5 degrees centigrade, if we want to avoid the worst case scenarios extreme weather will bring.”
The council is already taking a number of measures to reduce carbon emissions from car journeys. Measures have included encouraging residents to enjoy making more sustainable trips by foot, bicycle or public transport and the ongoing installation of charge points for electric powered vehicles. Merton, which currently has 101 publicly accessible electric fast chargers operating with another 36 expected to be installed by the end of 2019, is among the top boroughs in London for this expansion. Ongoing projects include to help clean up the air includes action to ensure drivers turn off their engines while waiting outside schools.
Cllr Byers, said: “Merton Council has a long history of taking action on climate change, dating back to the development of the Merton Rule in 2003. Our most recent strategy, which has been in place since 2014, has already made a positive impact at reducing carbon emissions. However it is now imperative that this work is now stepped up and an action plan to meet the challenges we face is created.”
“The council has the responsibility to take a leadership role in tackling climate changes. However, as 97.5% of emissions within the borough come from the buildings we work in and the vehicles we drive, the majority of which are outside our direct control, everyone has an important role to play. This is why we are setting up a working group which will actively involve residents and businesses.”
A Climate Change Emergency action plan is to be developed and presented to the council in early 2020. The council is set to launch an online survey and undertake engagement with residents.
For more information on how everyone can get involved visit the www.merton.gov.uk/climatechange
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report, last October, on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C. The report warned that the risk of catastrophic climate change including extreme heat, drought, flooding and climate-related poverty would significantly increase unless global warming could be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C. The report noted global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 unless urgent and unprecedented action is taken.