Raynes Park Community Forum
Tuesday 26 March 2019
The meeting was held in Raynes Park Library Hall, and chaired by Councillor Omar Bush, with Chris Larkman from the Raynes Park Association (RPA). More than 50 residents attended, as well as six other Merton Councillors, and officers from the council and its partners.
Councillor Nick Draper, Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, provided an update on Morley Park. Having had a difficult time negotiating with the developer Berkeley Homes, Cllr Draper said that the lease agreement had been reached with a £1million endowment so that Berkeley Homes would remain responsible for any reoccurrence of Japanese Knotweed. As a result, the park would be able to open in the next few weeks, with Ursuline School able to use the playing fields after their Governors have agreed the contract with the Council. A formal opening ceremony will then take place in May.
In response to questions from residents Cllr Draper said that the park should be open to the public before the official opening but the details of the event have yet to be planned in detail. Cllr Draper explained that the footway through the park would be a public right of way but the park would be closed at night. Diane Hodson from Friends of Morley Park asked if the sloping path would be made more accessible. Cllr Draper said there would not be any more work to the path as the area will be left to meadow. Access to the area will be from the other side of the park and the advantage of keeping a circular path is that it is more dementia friendly. A resident also asked about the visibility of the blocks of flats with trees having been removed, Cllr Draper said he would need to check but some areas are still to be planted.
My Raynes Park Festival
Tom Underwood said that the programme for the summer festival has been finalised and is being printed. The festival will run from 28 June to 7 July and will include comedy, poetry, art, music and films, culminating with the Lark in the Park picnic on 7 July in Holland Gardens. Details will be available from http://www.myraynespark.co.uk/
Tom also provided an update on Merton Citizens, that brings together 21 local organisations and faith groups. The priorities for the group are housing, mental health, and refugee welcome.
Sexual Health Strategy
Clare Gummett said that Merton Counci’s Public Health Team was working with Merton Clinical Commissioning Group to create a new Sexual Strategy that would inform future commissioning. There is a consultation open until 22 April which can be found at www.merton.gov.uk/consultations.
Age UK Planning for the Future Event
Clare also said that Age UK would be holding a Planning for the Future Event on 10 April from 4-8pm in Wimbledon Library.
Details of all the other activities run by Age UK Merton are also available from their website https://www.ageuk.org.uk/merton/
Chris Larkman said that the Apostles' Residents Association had asked Merton Council to plant additional trees, that the Association would pay for as they have in the past, but was told Merton Council would not be willing to meet ongoing maintenance costs.
Leonie Cooper, Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth, provided an update on the work of the Assembly in holding the Mayor of London to account. Since her last visit to Raynes Park the Assembly has agreed Environment, Transport, and Knife Crime strategies. The London Plan is currently being examined in public by the Planning Inspectorate. The London Plan covers issues such as green spaces, building heights, tree planting and waste recycling as well as using Transport for London land to transform areas like Morden. Once approved by Inspectors the Plan would be enforced.
The new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), will come into effect on 8 April. It will cover the same areas as the Congestion Charge but will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To find out if your vehicle would be subject to the additional charge go to https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/vrm-checker-ulez.
In response to questions from residents Leonie said the start of Crossrail 2 were certainly receding and it would be unlikely to see a Hybrid Bill in 2019. It is possible the Crossrail will need to be completed first and that has been delayed. Leonie was asked if the Mayor of London could call-in planning permission granted by Merton Council on Metropolitan Open Land, and replied that the Mayor can only call-in certain types of applications so would need to check on the detail if it could be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A resident asked what was being done to hold the Mayor to account over knife crime. Leonie responded that knife and violent crime was a national issue not just a London one but in London the Assembly has been challenging the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor Sophie Lindon; the Commissioner Cressida Dick; and Borough Commanders. There has been some improvement in 2019 compared to 2018 but there is still a lot more to do to resolve long term issues like cuts to local youth services. The Mayor has created a Violence Reduction Unit and has increased the Council Tax precept in order to invest in more officers. A resident asked if the Assembly was pressuring the Government to reserve cuts to police funding. Leonie said the Assembly agreed that police cuts have gone too far, especially in London which has unique costs like Royal Protection and counter terrorism. There are different views across the Assembly about the role of Stop and Search but it is usually most effective when intelligence led. In some case the Met has been using Section 60 powers to increase stop and search in a small area, such as Figges Marsh, for a time-limited period.
Leonie explained that while Councils can pay for additional officers they can’t pay for additional PCSO as the Met is not keen to lose flexibility over deployment. On Wimbledon Police Station Leonie said the review of the decision following the Judicial Review of the consultation was not yet completed so there is not a final decision as yet.
Cath James, Ben Stephens and Mike Robinson from Merton Council gave a presentation on the proposed changes to charges for parking in car parks, on-street bays and controlled parking zones (CPZs). The presentation can be found as an appendix to this report.
The consultation is open from 29 March until 5 May and can be found at https://www.merton.gov.uk/streets-parking-transport/parking/charges-consultation-2019
Not part of the consultation is the option of emissions charging or the review of the diesel levy which will be considered by Cabinet in the autumn. The results from the consultation will be reported to Cabinet in the summer.
Residents raised a number of comments in relation to the proposals including:
Ben explained that in addition to on-street posters the consultation was also featured in My Merton, would be in the Wimbledon Times, and would be promoted on social media.
Councillor Martin Whelton, Cabinet Member Regeneration, Housing and Transport, said that parking is not the only action the Council is taking on air pollution but is an important lever. He had heard the views expressed tonight and encouraged residents to respond to the consultation.
Councillor Mike Brunt, Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Cleanliness, provided an update on the new waste collection service. Cllr Brunt said it had been a difficult roll out with 10% of households not receiving the new bins in time for the new service and some having to wait five months for their bins. This was not acceptable and Cllr Brunt apologised for this. This has been the biggest change in Merton’s waste collection but was already starting to see some positive results. Food recycling has increased by 160,000 tonnes per months, garden waste subscriptions are up by 20% and there has been a drop in the waste going to the Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) of 330,000 tonnes per month. The number of assisted collections has also doubled. The target was to see 45% of waste recycled in 2018/19 and we are on target for that.
There is still a challenge in getting the contractors crews to use the system properly, stopping them lifting refuse out of the bins and risking spills. Missed collections are still too high but are coming down from 717 per week in November to 360 per week in March. Merton is recruiting three extra street inspectors to monitor the contract performance. Plastic waste does not have any value in recycling but it is cheaper to recycle than feed into the ERF. The Council is keen to work with Government to see plastic usage reduce.
Fly-tipping is still an issue but action is being taken. The Council has just taken eight people to court and fined them £1300 as well as crushing three vehicles used for fly-tipping. We will be looking to increase enforcement, name and shame more offenders and will be launching a ‘We are watching you’ campaign.
In response to questions from residents Cllr Brunt said that the ERF visitor centre will be open later this year. Services for flats above shops will be reviewed and there have been problems with recycling for small blocks of flats. Residents can request additional recycling boxes if needed and all new boxes should come with a lid. Unfortunately, the Council cannot clear fly-tips on private land without permission but is happy to support Alleygates if that would help residents keep their land clear. Street cleaning is based on monitoring output targets and Merton will be increasing the number of inspectors to monitor performance. With autumn leaf fall there is a 10-week window to clear up the fall so timing is critical, this year sucker machines were introduced to speed up the process.
Chris Larkman provided an update. Network Rail are clearing the bank on the north side of the station and hopefully the land transfer on the south side will go ahead shortly. The poor fencing and the poor SW trains service have also been raised. It is important to keep the pressure on NR.
The cycle route to New Malden should open in the next few months.
Neil Milligan was unable to attend the meeting so Chris Larkman and Cllr Fairclough provided an update instead. New plans on the Manuplastics site have been submitted following consultation, increasing the number of units from 99 to 125. The developer plans to start on site in 2020 even if they cannot get the changes approved. The development on the Bushey Road Tesco site is going ahead. Southey Bowling Club have applied for an extended License, 12.30am on Friday and 1am on Saturday, and comments need to be submitted by 2 April. A pedestrian crossing on Martin Way will be installed in April.
Councillor Bush thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting.
Dates of future meetings: All at 7.15pm in the Library Hall
Thursday 13 June 2019 Cllr Anthony Fairclough
Thursday 19 September 2019 Cllr Eloise Bailey
Thursday 5 December 2019 Cllr Pauline Cowper
Tuesday 31 March 2020 Cllr Adam Bush