Local Issues



Here are background comments on important local issues.  Click on any item to learn more:

Merton's New Local Plan Air Quality in Merton National Park City
Mayor of London's Housing Strategy Controlled Parking Zone MP2 Japanese Knotweed
Wheelie Bins Coming in October Car Clubs in Merton New Community Scooter Park
Morden Regeneration Parliamentary Boundary Changes Sutton Tramlink Proposals
John Innes Path Property Company for Merton School Places
Crossrail 2 Merton Healthwatch Croydon Merton & Sutton Credit Union

Wimbledon Police Station Closure Plans & London's New Basic Command Units 

Nelson Health Centre Development in Merton
Merton Hall Closure Harris Academy Supporting a Low Carbon Future
St Helier Hospital Morden LT Depot Expansion Cancelled The Care Act 2014
White Hart Pub Redevelopment Wandle Valley Forum Merton Priory


If you have comments on these or any other local issues, please email us



Merton's New Local Plan

Merton has held an initial consultation on its new Local Plan which will be developed over the coming months.  It is concerned with where and how those housing numbers can be achieved. This is principally a land use document to replace the current planning policies. The link is here and  MPWRA's reponse can be read here.

The public's response to the Consultation, focussing on the Morden area, was presented to our February 2018 meeting.  The slides can be viewed here.

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Mayor of London's Housing Strategy

The Mayor of London has published highly ambitious housing targets for Merton in a draft based on the government’s overall housing target for London and the GLA’s assessment of land and housing capacity for Merton. Against a new London target of 66,000 new homes every year, an increase of 35%, Merton would see its target more than trebling from 411 to 1328 new homes each year. This is an increase of 223%, the highest increase of all the London boroughs.

At the February 2018 Full Council meeting our Independent councillors agreed there was a critical need for more housing in London but asked for "reassurance that the council will use every means at its disposal to counnter this unrealistic plan."

The Mayor of London's Housing Strategy can be accessed here. MPWRA response is here.

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Waste Collection Changes

Merton  is  going  ahead  with  plans  to  introduce  wheelie bins  for  all  waste  collections.  It has joined  a  multi-borough scheme: the South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) covers Merton,  Sutton,  Croydon  and  Kingston  Councils.  SLWP has  chosen  Veolia  to  handle  waste  collection  and  street cleaning services across the four boroughs.  Veolia took over the service in early 2017 and the wheelie bin scheme itself will start in October 2018. From that month, collections will comprise:

•  Non-recyclable  rubbish  fortnightly from  a  240  litre wheelie bin
•  Paper  and  card  from  another  240  litre  wheelie  bin fortnightly
•  Plastic, glass and tin fortnightlyfrom a 55 litre box on alternate weeksto paper and card
•  Food waste collected weekly as now
•  Garden Waste fortnightly as now for an annual fee

As MPWRA wrote in late 2016:

"Despite our best efforts, wheelie bins are to be forced onto Merton's households in a reduced service which will discourage recycling and increase clutter in our front gardens.  Merton's plans to change our waste collections were approved by the Cabinet in July.  Under the scheme, Merton and three other councils will outsource their household waste collection to Veolia who will collect:

• Non-recyclable rubbish fortnightly from a 240 litre wheelie bin
• Paper and card from another 240 litre wheelie bin fortnightly
• Plastic, glass and tin collected fortnightly from a 55 litre box on alternate weeks to paper and card
• Food waste collected weekly as now
• Garden Waste collected fortnightly as now for an annual fee

The Cabinet decision was upheld at a council "Call-in" in early August 2016, paving the way for Veolia to take over in early 2017 and the scheme itself to start in October 2018. 

In an alert in summer 2016 we lamented the lack of detail available to our Independent Councillors in scrutiny to assess whether the proposed scheme was the right one for Merton.  It is clearly right for the contractor.  The wheelie bin argument had been that open boxes and black sacks degraded recycling of paper and card and caused rubbish in the streets.  We were told that going to a more expensive service was a price worth paying.  But if wheelie bins are essential (in many cases they aren't) we still cannot understand why all recycling cannot go into a single bin.  It keeps the rain out, it maintains the value of the recyclables, it promotes recycling in one container.

But it seems that the four councils emerged from the protracted negotiations with Veolia accepting (on your behalf) that it would be better if: 1. you sorted recycling into separate containers; 2, you make room for wheelie bins and boxes on your property; and 3, Merton should no longer utilise the successful comingling technology which encourages recycling. 
The new scheme is one that suits the contractor but provides a poorer service to residents.

When a pilot scheme was conducted in 2015 in some Mitcham roads, it tested using simply two wheelie bins per household with weekly collections.  Not a consultation but an unrepresentative location testing an unrepresentative scheme (refuse will be collected fortnightly from October).  It's striking that Merton conduct consultations on many issues yet unaccountably there was no time in the past several years to ask you about wheelie bins."

What our residents had said:  In an earlier survey of Merton Park residents 75% were against wheelie bins and our councillors have consistently argued  against the scheme finally selected.   They lamented the lack of detail available in scrutiny to assess whether the proposed scheme was the right one for Merton.

What our councillors did: Given the council's determination to proceed, they managed to establish through the scrutiny process that, well before the system is introduced, Merton will determine how many households would find storage and presentation of wheelie bins difficult so they can see what special arrangements are necessary.  Our councillors have met cabinet and council officers to show them the problems wheelie bins pose to many households in our ward, specifically in the north and south ends of Merton Park.  We hope that, even though the scheme is set to go ahead, the council will honour their commitment and make an honest appraisal of the problems the proposals will pose for many people and that they make the service as flexible as possible so that households with difficulties will not have to suffer.

We also hope that they will make the service as flexible as possible. In that  regard,  we have pointed out that waste collection vehicles can accept both wheelie bins and black sacks. There is plenty of flexibility to tailor waste collections to the needs of residents, not sacrifice residents to fit in with contractors.

In June 2017 Cllr John Sargeant visited the London Borough of Kingston to observe their waste collections.  He confirmed that the planned collection process could be quite flexible.  For example, residents requiring extra help could get it with the right planning.  It would be quite possible to throw black sacks into the new vehicles where this was a sensible option.

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Morden Regeneration

There are extensive  plans to regenerate Morden.  This is a truly massive project which will potentially completely transform the look, shape and size of Morden.

Momentum continues to build behind a massive redevelopment of Morden Town Centre.  Merton Council is working closely with TfL to explore opportunities. Together, they have the land and access to finance to launch a scheme to transform the centre of Morden by the early-mid 2020s.  They have been testing potential developer interest in the town centre.

With such a commercial prize our independent councillors sounded a warning: through the scrutiny process they have been urging - and the cabinet has now accepted - that the Council should retain an appropriate amount of control of any development. In practical terms this would mean that Merton retained a significant share in the Joint Venture organisation that delivers the scheme.  (We believe the Carillion and other recent upheavals fully justify this approach.)

Procurement for the right development partner will begin in Autumn 2018 once negotiations with TfL are completed.

The council has secured funding to support their work, including £260,000 from the Cabinet Office to look at how more housing developments can be brought to the town centre. Their other bids to the Planning Delivery Fund and the Housing Infrastructure Fund, if successful, could speed up delivery of the Morden Town Centre project.

If that sounds exciting it also emphasises our concern that Merton maintains sufficient overall control and that we all keep a close eye on just how huge the plans become.

To trace progress towards regeneration of the Town Centre over the past five years click on the Morden Regeneration tab to the left of the screen.


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John Innes Path

A path to take walkers around Rutlish School from John Innes park to John Innes Recreation Ground was opened in September 2017.  The path was originally scheduled to be completed by February 2017.  The works finally received planning permission in March but work was delayed until July after the exam period.  The planner's report can be viewed here.

Rutlish School has two main sites, situated either side of the footpath, which links John Innes Park to John Innes Recreation Ground, and provides a direct pedestrian and cycle route from one to the other.  The school were concerned that safety and security were compromised by the public path.

It had been a contentious period.  Following a consultation in the light of police recommendations to improve security, Merton Council’s cabinet agreed on 15 August 2016 to close the footpath between John Innes Park and John Innes Recreation Ground from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, in term time from September 2016.

The cabinet decision was designed to ensure the school completed other recommended work to improve site security as well as closing the path.  This accords with a submission by Merton Park Independent councillors.

Several residents are affected by the restricted access to the footpath, as it provides a direct route to John Innes Park tennis courts, the bowling green and croquet lawn.  Cabinet agreed an alternative path for residents should be provided as soon as possible.  They promised that it would provide a route mainly through the existing park which would be fully accessible.

Impact and On-site Works

Due to the legal agreements required, we were told this would take "a few months" to be completed but that by February 2017 there would be a new ‘footpath’ linking  the  park  to  the  recreation  ground.   In fact, the works finally received planning permission in March 2017 and then work was delayed until July - after the exam period.  The planner's report can be viewed here.

In reality, the alternative path exits the Park alongside the Rutlish gates on Watery Lane, uses the footway in front of the school and enters the Recreation Ground at the western end of the school frontage. Rutlish School provides some land to the left of  the gate to enable  level  access from Watery Lane for buggies and wheelchairs.

Initially, closure of the existing path did not go well.  Many residents were in touch with their concerns, especially those who walked through the  park only to discover the gates locked.  Others noticed school entrance gates left open while the path was locked.  Our Independent Councillors pressed for the procedure for the closure of the Path during school hours to be properly administered.

Consultation Results

In the 2016 consultation on the future of the John Innes path 59% of  respondents  supported  closure  of  the path  during  the  school  day  (8am  to 5pm).  This  was a  reversal  of  the  2010 consultation  when  60%  voted  to  keep  the path  open.  A police report highlighting weaknesses in the security of the school site made  a  significant  difference.   Your councillors could not oppose closure given the results but insisted  that  if the path was closed Cabinet should recognise the inconvenience  and  risks associated  with  closure,  including  safety  risks  in using Watery Lane as an alternative route and the lack of alternative  escape  routes for park users who  feel threatened.   They also demanded that Rutlish School addressed all the other security weaknesses identified in the police report.

You can read  the report on the 2016 consultation It attracted a massive response – 1,117 survey forms returned, of which 909 were from local residents, 498 from park users and 261 from parents of pupils at Rutlish (many respondents fitted more than one classification).  Overall 59% supported closure of the path during the school day – this is a reversal of the outcome to the 2010 consultation, when 60% opposed closure.

Predictably in 2016, parents of Rutlish pupils were more likely to favour closure (84%) as were staff and governors (91%).  But local residents favoured closure by a slim margin (52%).  Only park users were opposed to closure (59%).


The John Innes Foundation gifted the land to Merton and Morden UDC (predecessor to Merton LB) in 1949, subject to a restrictive covenant protecting the right of the public to walk between the park and the recreation ground.  The covenant will not be set aside; rather it was proposed for the Foundation to enter into a tripartite licence agreement with the school and the council to close the path during school hours for 190 days a year.

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   Crossrail 2

 Plans for CR2 are under development to bring a new line from North East of London emerging at Wimbledon and travelling on to Epsom, Chessington, Hampton Court and Shepperton.   The scheme could transform the centre of Wimbledon.  It could also turn the centre into a building site for many years.

We understand that the business case for Crossrail 2 (CR2), submitted to Government last year, is to be the subject of an independent financial review. This will test the robustness of the business case and consider which stakeholders should contribute to the cost.  Until the review is completed with an endorsement of the business case, CR 2 is unable to consult on any new proposals.

During the delay, the CR2 design team is reconsidering some of the issues raised during the last consultation, including the impact of the project on the centre of Wimbledon.  CR2 wants to hear from people who are concerned about safeguarding directions which affect some properties near the railway construction sites.  There may be implications for planning applications or the sale of these properties. 

Here is a detailed presentation describing the plans as they stood at November 2015.  There is more information on CR2's website .

2017 Developments:

In the November '17 Budget Crossrail 2 received little comment.  The Local Government Association commented: "The government will continue to work with Transport for London on developing fair and affordable plans for Crossrail 2, including through an independent review of funding and financing."

During 2017, there was plenty of discussion about Crossrail 2 (CR2), with various statements from the Government and London’s Mayor.  Here are the key points:

In March 2017 TfL submitted an updated business case and funding plan for CR2 to the Department for Transport.  In mid-summer a government minister stated: ". . . a thorough analysis is being carried out by my department to ensure it is a robust scheme . . . The next steps, including when the next stage of public consultation will take place, will be decided as part of this analysis."

In July the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, both stressed the need for CR2 although the Mayor said the current plans for Wimbledon need revision.  CR2 have stated that Wimbledon is ‘unique’ because of its impact on the Town Centre.

Chris Grayling asked City Hall to see if London can fund half of CR2’s up-front construction costs before he will consider whether to approve the scheme.  He wants to see ‘a funding package which works for both London and the rest of the country and recognises other priorities. . . an affordable scheme that is fair to the UK taxpayer.’

The Mayor added: ‘Crossrail 2 is essential for the future prosperity of London and the South East, so I’m pleased that the Transport Secretary and I have reached an agreement to take this vital project forward.  We will continue to work together to ensure the project is value for money and provides the maximum benefits for jobs and growth in the region over the coming decades.’

TfL are under pressure to improve the affordability of CR2 and increase its share of construction costs.  The next public consultation on CR2 should come in 2018 but only once the Government approves TfL’s revised business case and financing is agreed. The consultation proposals will present a preferred option for Wimbledon, plus three other options, with an analysis which demonstrates why these are not preferred. It is not impossible that one of the non-preferred options could be selected following the consultation exercise.

Potentially the Parliamentary Bill might be introduced in 2019 and passed in 2021/22 (currently scheduled to be an election year).  Construction might run from 2023 to 2033.  However, we have learned that CR2 would not be completed until the 2040s under one option being explored by TfL, as they consider how to fund the project.  Business groups say it would be ‘extremely disappointing’ if the project’s timetable were to be pushed back.

Consultation 2015-16

CR2 ran a consultation in late 2015, ending January 2016.  Our Independent Ward Councillors contributed to Merton's cross-party response to the consultation which can be viewed hereCR2 published their initial response in July 2016. This is available to view on their website.

There are specific comments on Wimbledon, Raynes Park and Motspur Park (starting on page 56 of Crossrail's response) as well as other locations -  Balham, Tooting Broadway, King’s Road Chelsea and the New Southgate Branch.  They say "more work needs to be done to work through the issues that have been raised. Plans for these areas will be published ahead of further public consultation in the autumn."

The Friends of Wimbledon Town Centre conducted their own survey in the summer of 2016.  Here are the results.  Learn more about the Friends on  their  website: http://www.wimbledontowncentre.com/.

For Merton a key step will be the preparation of the Wimbledon Masterplan .  Originally planned to be created during 2016, the timetable slipped into 2017. (It has now slipped further.)  Workshop meetings involving residents were held in early 2017.  Many MPWRA members and our independent councillors attended.  The interactive sessions enabled residents to discuss and record the opportunities and issues facing Wimbledon and the future direction the town centre should take.  Click on this link to view the consultation report of the workshops.

Further details are available at www.crossrail2.co.uk, including several factsheets and an interactive map of the proposals.


We also undserstand:

  • Until the formal Act of Parliament is passed, no one can say CR2 will definitely happen
  • The National Infrastructure Commission was asked to review the strategic case for CR2. It concluded in March 2016 that CR2 should be taken forward as a priority and that funding should be made available to develop the scheme fully with the aim of submitting a hybrid bill by autumn 2019. This would enable CR2 to open in 2033.
  • In response, the Government and TfL announced they would provide £160m to develop CR2 further and table a hybrid bill before the (then) next General Election in 2020.  The timetable is now well delayed.
  • CR2 reports to TfL and the Mayor of London.

Michelle Dix, Managing Director of Crossrail 2, gave an interview to the Wimbledon Guardian in mid-2016 making clear there is "no easy solution for Wimbledon town centre".

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Wimbledon Police Station Closure Plans &

London's New Basic Command Units

Wimbledon Police Station Consultation outcome: 

MOPAC has announced the planned sale of Wimbledon Station to realise £7m and save £444,000 annual running costs. It is expected that the disposal may take up to two years to go through.

24/7 front counter provision for Merton will move to Mitcham Police Station.

MOPAC says “While opposition to these proposal was significant, there was no specific proposal set out by respondents which would allow us to revise our plans whilst also meeting the requirements to make significant savings across the MPS estate, and ensure capital receipts are as high as possible.”

Mitcham front counter will be refurbished and upgraded before the move in early 2018

Plans are also being developed for the possible merger of four Boroughs into the ‘South West BCU’ as London moves from 32 Boroughs to around 12 BCUs.


The Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) consulted (closed 6 October) on proposals to close police stations across London as part of cost saving measures designed to save £400m by 2020.  Wimbledon Police Station would close and policing operations would  transfer to the Mitcham Station;  the Wimbledon Station would be sold for redevelopment.  (The existing 24/7 front counter is at Wimbledon. The MPS proposes moving this to Mitcham which is currently a daytime facility. Wimbledon Station could then be sold and response policing will probably be based from Mitcham along with SNT staff. It is anticipated an office/base for local SNT staff will be required in Wimbledon.)

The MOPAC strategy which was the subject of the consultation can be accessed here.

MPWRA submitted a formal response to the consultation which you can read here.


London's New Basic Command Units (BCUs)

The Metropolitan Police Service has announced changes to the way local policing is delivered in London through the introduction of BCUs.  A BCU is a larger police command unit that will replace the Met's current 32 borough model, by merging local policing in boroughs to form 12 BCUs. These will each deliver the same core local policing functions - neighbourhoods, emergency response, CID and safeguarding - in a more consistent way. Each BCU will be led by a chief superintendent who will be the BCU Commander.

Merton will form a BCU together with Kingston, Richmond and Wandsworth.

People, buildings and resources will be shared across borough boundaries for greater flexibility.  The Met still  faces significant financial challenges and must make savings of £325m by 2021/22. Police officer numbers are expected to fall to 30,000 by April 2017, and further by 2021.

The recent BCU announcement also emphasised that the Met will build on the success of Safer Neighbourhoods, where local officers are visible in each London ward with two Dedicated Ward Officers (DWOs) and one PCSO in every London ward. "In BCUs there will also be more police officers working with young people, educational establishments and care homes. We will bring the management of issues such as anti-social behaviour and licensing into one team so we are working more closely with local authorities and our other partners."

With calls to 999 and 101 on the rise, the new BCU structure will see more officers responding to emergency calls across borough boundaries.  They will continue to deal with a greater proportion of crime online or over the telephone.

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Merton Hall

Plans to move Elim Church into Merton Hall are about to move ahead.  The Hall was listed as an Asset of Community Value in January 2017 which gave local groups six weeks to make a bid for the building.   The council do not expect a viable bid and so are proceeding with their schedule.  (We understand on-site works will not begin until the bid period has ended.)  Although the front of the building is to be retained the rest will be demolished and rebuilt to accommodate Elim.  We deeply regret the loss of this piece of our heritage, given to the community by John Innes.   At scrutiny meetings our councillors have queried the need to demolish so much of the Hall; they also suggested alternative sites for the new secondary school which will displace the existing Elim Church.  But the cabinet can drive through their land swaps to complete the deal.

Faced with the decision to proceed we have requested that artefacts of local significance should be reclaimed from the building before demolition begins.  We have had a preliminary meeting with council officers at the Hall to assess the task.

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Future of St Helier Hospital

In 2017 Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust consulted on how its services should be provided over 2020-2030. It is generally accepted that the hospital estate is no longer fit for purpose and £16 million has already been spent on urgent repairs at St Helier to stop the rain coming through onto the wards. But for the longer term the Trust is consulting to make the case for £300-400m funding to build a new, acute hospital.

At our meetings in July and October 2017, Daniel Elkeles, Chief Executive and Charlotte Hall, Head Nurse presented their arguments for concentrating acute facilities in a single hospital to deliver A&E, in-patient beds for children and maternity. 85% of patients would continue to receive care at the same hospitals as they do now but care for the sickest and most at-risk patients would be improved by having specialist facilities and consultants on one site, rather than spread across two as at present.

If the argument for one acute hospital is accepted in principle, the critical question remains where it should be sited. The consultation puts forward three options – St Helier, Epsom, and a co-location of Sutton and Royal Marsden hospitals. From the viewpoint of Merton residents, there can be no doubt that St Helier would be their preferred choice, and Merton councillors are united cross-party in pushing for this outcome. There are strong demographic arguments as well; the catchment area for St Helier has the greatest health needs and the most economic deprivation of the three options. The gap in life expectancy is actually increasing between the east and the west of Merton, so re-siting acute facilities away from St Helier into Epsom or Sutton can only exacerbate these inequalities.

Even if Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust is successful in its bid for funding (and this is the fifth set of proposals in 18 years), plans are still subject to statutory consultation which must involve Merton’s Health and Wellbeing Board. The Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) will determine the future of health provision for South West London i.e. Merton/Wandsworth, Kingston/Richmond, Sutton and Croydon. A revised strategy is awaited – the discussion has some way to run yet before a decision is made.


Here are the slides from the July 2017 meeting .  There is a video on the Hospital Trust website where you can also download:

• 'The Strategic outline case for investment in our hospitals 2020-2030'

• 'Strategic outline case summary' and

• 'Epsom and St Helier 2020-2030 - Your views'


Previously at our September 2016 meeting senior managers from Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust talked about the challenges facing the Trust.

For more details of the Trust's Estates Review click here and to learn more about the Trust itself click here .

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White Hart Pub Redevelopment 

The White Hart pub next to the tramcrossing on Kingston Road lies just one track's width outside our ward.  It has been closed for some time and efforts to re-let it have proved unsuccessful.  The land belongs to the Rutlish Foundation and the Trustees are now considering ways to make better use of the site and hope to submit a planning application in Spring 2018.  They are seeking feedback on initial proposals.  Here are the details which were also circulated to households living close to the site and here are all the diagrams (click on 'read more') displayed at the exhibition in December 2017 at the Old Rutlishians' Association Clubhouse.
The Trust itself is a charitable foundation supporting young people who either live or were born in the Ancient Parish of Merton or who have been pupils at Rutlish School.  It provides study grants for their secondary and higher education.
Air Quality in Merton

Poor air quality in the borough is a major cause of concern for residents, businesses and visitors.  Merton has produced a Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) that builds on existing measures and develops several more actions to improve air quality.

The council held a consultation in late 2017 on the AQAP to hear the views of residents, residents' groups, businesses and visitors to the borough.  This link takes you to the AQAP report and the consultation.

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Controlled Parking Zone MP2 

The new Controlled Parking Zone MP2, was introduced in the roads near the Nelson Health Centre in August 2017.  The scheme, which was taken to consultation at the request of residents, does seem to have had a significant visual impact on the area and allows residents to park near their homes.  We are pleased that it has eradicated some dangerous parking especially on street corners.

Watery Lane was included in the initial stages of the consultation but was not included in MP2 as residents in that road preferred not to join.  Following discussions with the council, a separate consultation was held which would see the road joining MP1 instead.

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Car Clubs

We are keeping an eye on Merton’s new involvement with Car Clubs.  The scheme, introduced in 2017, may well encourage some road users to use club cars rather than buy their own and reduce the pressure on our streets.  It provides both petrol-driven and electric vehicles and allows cars to park in CPZ bays.

We welcomed the idea but have told Merton it should not be introduced at the expense of CPZ members.  We have been given an assurance that club cars can be kept out of areas which are too congested to accommodate them by the software controlling the scheme.  This will tell users where they can and can’t park and can be varied depending on usage and as traffic and parking patterns change.

Parking revenues will not be affected by the scheme as the operator will reimburse the Council for usage as well as paying penalty notices.

Learn more about Car Clubs in Merton.

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Parliamentary Boundary Changes

The Boundary Commission published its proposed revised changes to constituencies in October 2017 in response to comments from the public.  As we reported earlier in our Autumn 2016 FORUM, the previous proposals would have profoundly altered the allocation of Merton wards between parliamentary constituencies.

Under the proposals, Merton Park is included in Wimbledon constituency as before.  Village and Wimbledon Park wards return to the constituency, while Ravensbury, Cricket Green and Lavender Fields move from Wimbledon to the newly-named Mitcham and Norbury constituency, compared with the Commission’s 2016 proposals.  Wimbledon also absorbs the ward of Roehampton and Putney Heath.

Lower Morden and St Helier move into Sutton and Cheam as before and Graveney still joins Tooting.  Longthornton, Figges Marsh and Pollards Hill wards will be part of Mitcham and Norbury as before.

There was a final consultation ending in December 2017.  You can look at the latest proposals in full here.

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Property Company for Merton

Like other local authorities, Merton council owns many sites around the borough; some are shops, offices and commercial premises (particularly in Morden) while others are undeveloped land.  Council policy has been to sell surplus sites to developers through a competitive bidding process. Although this generates a one-off capital receipt, the council does not benefit financially from the site once developed and capital receipts cannot be used to meet revenue needs, such as adult social care.

As the demand for property to rent is growing strongly, Merton has formed a Local Authority Property Company (LAPC) with the aim of developing its own housing for private rent.  Merton’s LAPC will start on a modest scale, developing 77 units across four small sites.  As well as having sites available to develop, the council can finance their development by borrowing at preferential rates from the Public Work Loans Board (PWLB) and lending on to the LAPC at more commercial rates.

From an investment of £25m into the LAPC for the initial scheme, the council can anticipate revenues of £17m over 30 years and will have an asset worth £50m on maturity.  This compares with a capital receipt of £8.2m if the four sites are sold now.  Of course, property development is not risk-free.  But by building to rent rather than to buy, the council is tapping into the sector of the housing market that is showing the strongest growth in Merton.

In the longer run the LAPC could play a key role in the regeneration of Morden town centre.  Because the LAPC keeps control through build to rent, this ensures the flats will be lived in, not bought and left empty by overseas investors.  More than half of Morden town centre is in our ward, so as councillors we want to see thriving communities being created, not ghost towns.  The Morden development will include affordable housing units, but these will be sold to a registered provider to manage, as the council no longer has any social housing stock of its own.

While the LAPC gives the council more control than simply selling the sites to a developer, it will also require careful management to balance the financial risk and to build housing that will be an asset to Merton in the future.

Learn more from this link to the proposal approved by council in April 2017:

Wholly Owned Local Authority Property Company (LAPC)

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Merton Healthwatch

 At one of our recent meetings we heard about plans for Merton Healthwatch . This has been established as the formal channel where patients and the public can engage with the NHS. You could say it’s the way that we can hold the NHS to account. To see the presentation on the NHS and Merton Healthwatch click here .

To learn more and read the latest Newsletter from Merton Healthwatch click here.

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Nelson Health Centre

To mark the opening of the new Nelson Health Centre, Dr Martyn Wake addressed the MPWRA at their April 2015 meeting attended by 105 residents.

Dr Sion Gibby from NHS Merton Care Commissioning Group also talked us in February 2015 about the Health Centre.  Here is a five-minute video which “walks through” the new Nelson:


The dedicated NHS webpage contains further useful information on the new Health Centre.

NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) appointed St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust to provide specialist consultation and diagnostic services at the Health Centre.  These include out-patient appointments, therapy services, and minor surgery, x-ray, ultrasound and community mental health services.

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Harris Academy

In March 2017 Harris Federation ran a statutory consultation on the opening of Harris Wimbledon School scheduled for September 2018. You can view the explanatory booklet about the school here.   Page 6 outlines the proposed admissions policy for consultation.

When the new secondary school opens in September 2018 there will be 120 year 7 places with a rise to its permanent admission number of 180 in 2019.  The plan is that, for the first two years, the academy will operate from the former adult education building in Whatley Avenue SW20 before the new build school on High Path SW19 is ready in September 2020.

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Morden LT Depot Expansion Cancelled

We reported in our Spring 2017 FORUM that TfL were planning to expand the capacity of their Morden Depot to enable a significant increase in the volume of journeys along the line.  An additional 17 trains were to be bought so the Northern Line could run 30 trains per hour at peak times.  We discussed the plans directly with TfL, so were surprised to be told in early October that their construction plans, due to begin at the end of 2017, have been ‘paused’.

In further discussions with TfL we were told that they will be able to increase the frequency of their existing trains without the immediate need to purchase new trains.  The reasons given were changed timetabling and the impact of capacity increases coming our way from the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail 1).  Timetabling may help a little but CR1 is an East-West line which will give little relief to the Northern Line.  The news will come as a blow to TfL’s suppliers who had expected these plans to proceed until very recently.

We are aware that TfL have experienced reductions in passenger revenues over the past year.

New timetables are being introduced early in 2018 so we will see if there is an improvement.  Of course, the ‘pause’ will mean no disruption from the planned expansion of Morden Depot, although some necessary upgrade to electrical supplies will still be needed.  The greater concern is that this effective cancellation, at such an advanced stage, signals a lack of funds for TfL to carry out its many programmes.

The previously planned works are outlined in this presentation.

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Wandle Valley Forum

At our AGM in July 2017 MPWRA voted unanimously to join over 80 other community groups, voluntary organisations and businesses who back the Wandle Valley Forum.

It was established in 2005 to bring together people and organisations that care for the River Wandle and its diverse network of open spaces and communities.  It provides both a communications network and an independent voice for the different communities and organisations that make up the Wandle Valley Regional Park.

If that all sounds a little high-flown and wordy, take a look at their website and see the very practical steps they are taking.  As Tony Burton, Chair of WVF, explained to us in July 2017, in the short term the Wandle faces several challenges from overbearing development along part of its banks; they are aiming to complete the Wandle Trail; there were many events in September in their annual Wandle Valley Fortnight and they are also awarding grants to local groups to celebrate the river.

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National Park City

MPWRA members voted to support proposals for London to be designated as a National Park City.   The scheme seeks to extend the aims of the UK's traditional National Parks to "conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area" and "promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the park by the public".  It wants these applied to the whole of London.  And it seems London is set to become a National Park City in 2019.

A Greater London National Park City would not seek to appropriate any formal planning powers and would not add new layers of bureaucracy.  It is a privately funded charitable foundation. 

There are further details at www.nationalparkcity.london where you can also access a map of London's great outdoors, including all of the capital’s 3,000 parks plus woodlands, playing fields, nature reserves, city farms, rivers, canals and all the spaces that contribute to London’s landscape.  Featured on BBC Countryfile’s special Cities episode, the map is your guide to exploring the capital. Some of the best walks through and around London are drawn, such as the London Loop and Capital Ring, along with symbols marking places to swim outdoors, climb hills, pitch a tent or go kayaking. It even shows front and back gardens, but not any buildings!

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Japanese Knotweed

In 2016 a small area of Japanese Knotweed was discovered in the ward.  (We are aware of other instances elsewhere in Merton in the past.)  Merton Council responded to our request to take action.  This year Merton attacked the weed growth again at our request.  And you can be sure we shall be watching the area this year as well.  It is quite usual for Japanese Knotweed to take more than one season to be eradicated.

We thought residents would value this short newspaper comment on just how serious it is to have the plant on your property.

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New Community Scooter Park

In 2017 Poplar Primary School created a Community Scooter Park - believed to be the first in the UK.  Their crowd fundraising campaign successfully raised £20,000 just before its self-imposed end-April deadline.  You can watch the scooter park in action and learn more about the scheme in this video .

We were thrilled that the school brought derelict land back into use not only for the school but the whole community.  MPWRA members organised a collection and donated a bench for the planned natural area which was planted with bluebells, snowdrops and spring bulbs.

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Sutton Tramlink Proposals

A consultation was held in mid 2014 to seek residents' views on outline plans to extend Tramlink from Wimbledon to Sutton via Morden.   Under the scheme, Tramlink would extend along Morden Road on new tracks passing Morden and going to Sutton via St Helier Avenue. 

There could be significant benefits but also considerable negative implications from any such scheme, notably from the potential loss of much of the Nusery Road Playing Fields and from its impact on local traffic flows.   Rat-running is a concern for many residents living in Merton Park, especially during the busy rush hours.

MPWRA made a formal response on the scheme.  You can read it if you click here We were pleased to see that those views were reflected in the report on the consultation:

click here for the summary       click here for the full report

 We understand that currently this project has a low priority with TfL/GLA.

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School Places and Performance 

Primary school places in Merton were discussed at the September 2010 meeting of the MPWRA and Secondary School places were the topic in 2014. To see the background slides presented by Tom Proctor, LBM Service Manager for Schools Organisation, click here .

In Merton Park we are proud of the achievements of schools and pupils across the borough and especially of those in our own ward.  You can see the achievements of all Merton schools in this link.

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Croydon Merton & Sutton Credit Union

In Setember 2016 our Independent Ward Councillors voted with the rest of the Council to support the CMS Credit Union.   It is a savings and loans co-operative. It aims to help members save up money and provide loans at affordable rates. After meeting essential running costs, the profits are given back to the membership through a dividend payment.

We would echo the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury who said, at that time, he saw credit unions as a way of "putting the payday loan companies out of business".  (We are also aware that for many people the high street banks offer no alternative to payday loans; credit unions can play a vital role.)

To learn more, click here

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Development in Merton - how does it work?

There is a Guide to Planning in Merton and there is considerable more detail on the Merton website.

Conservation Areas

Conservation areas are designated as areas of special architectural or historic interest with the intention to preserve them. The John Innes - Merton Park and Wilton Crescent conservation areas were designated by Merton Council in 1968 and 1984 respectively.

There is a Design Guide specifically written for these two conservation areas which highlights the main architectural features and important qualities that contribute to the areas'? character. It also provides recommendations and guidance on improvements that can be carried out by residents which  preserve and enhance the character of these areas.  It is accessible on the Merton website. 
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Supporting a Low Carbon Future and Green Ideas 

We all agree we should work towards a future where we use less energy and cause less pollution.  There are many steps we can all take.  We collect links to opportunities, organisations and  ideas to help turn the talk into reality.   To learn more, click on the Energy Saving tab on the left of your screen - and send us your own links and suggestions.

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The Care Act 2014

At our meeting on October 6 2015 Dan Short, Interim Head of Redesign at LBM described the far-reaching features of The Care Act 2014 .    Here are the slides he presented and an information note

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Merton Priory

After our AGM in July 2015, John Hawkes gave us a talk on nearby Merton Priory.

The Chapter House which lies under the eastern end of Meruntun Way has staged many artistic and social events and hosted numerous visits by school and adult groups.  It is now closed until Summer 2018 for a major renovation scheme, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Living Wandle Partnership.

To learn more about this exciting development click here.

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Local Guardian Newspaper

The newspaper is delivered each week but sadly not to every home.  To read the latest or previous editions of the Local Guardian click here .