On this page we provide additional information on several important local issues:
Wheelie Bins . . . . Morden Regeneration . . . . John Innes Path . . . . Crossrail 2 . . . . Property Company for Merton . . . . Boundary Changes. . . Changes to your NHS . . . . Nelson Health Centre . . . . Harris Academy. . . . Merton's Budget 2017. . . . Wandle Vally Forum. . . . National Park City. . . . Japanese Knotweed. . . .Tramlink Proposals. . . .Supporting a Low Carbon Future . . . . School Places. . . .Development in Merton . . . Croydon Merton & Sutton Credit Union . . . .Merton Priory. . . . Local Guardian Newspaper
If you have comments on these or other local issues, please email us
Waste Collection Proposed Changes
Merton is planning to introduce wheelie bins for all waste collections in October 2018 as part of a multi-borough scheme. The South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) covers Merton, Sutton, Croydon and Kingston Councils. Veolia has been chosen as the recommended preferred bidder to handle waste collection and street cleaning services across the four boroughs.
As MPWRA wrote in August 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
At a council "Call-in" in early August the Cabinet decision was upheld, paving the way for the contractor to take over in early 2017 and the scheme itself to start in 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 councils emerged out of the protracted negotiations with the contractor 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, we should no longer use the successful comingling technology which encourages recycling. It is a scheme that suits the contractor but provides a poorer service to residents.
When a pilot scheme was conducted in 2015 in some Mitcham roads, it trialled using simply two wheelie bins with weekly collections. Not a consultation but an unrepresentative location testing an unrepresentative scheme. It's striking that Merton conduct consultations on many issues (there are six in progress currently, including one that seeks your views on the flooring for a new library) yet unaccountably there was no time in the past several years to ask you about wheelie bins."
The argument for wheelie bins had been that paper and card in open boxes degrade if they get wet and foxes attack black sacks creating rubbish in the streets. But if we accept that argument 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 and it promotes recycling in one container.
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: 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. We hope that they will make the service as flexible as possible so that households with difficulties will not have to suffer.
The council has the power to introduce a scheme of their own choosing. We hope that they will honour their commitments. 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. Their system will be introduced in Merton in October 2018. He saw 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.
But the prospect of large, unsightly wheelie bins in crowded streetscapes remains.
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.
A public consultation was held in the weeks leading up to November 2015. This link takes you to background information about the plans. A group of us, comprising MPWRA members, including Committee members, have convened specifically to follow the outlook and implications of the plans. Our detailed submission to the consultation can be read here.
Learn more by clicking on the Morden Regeneration tab to the left of the screen.
John Innes Path
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.
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 will be fully accessible.
Due to the legal agreements required, this would take "a few months" to be completed but we were told 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 will exit the Park alongside the Rutlish gates on Watery Lane, use the footway in front of the school and enter the Recreation Ground as soon as practicable at the western end of the school frontage. Rutlish School will provide some land to the left of the gate to enable level access from Watery Lane for buggies and wheelchairs. The works will be jointly fund by the council and school.
The cabinet decision is designed to ensure the school completes other recommended work to improve site security as well as closing the path. This accords with a submission by Merton Park Independent councillors.
Initially, closure of the existing path it did not go well. Many residents were in touch with their concerns, especially those who walk through the park only to discover the gates locked, others who noticed entrance gates left open while the path was locked. Our Independent Councillors are still pressing for the procedure for the closure of the Path during school hours to be properly administered.
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 addresses all the other security weaknesses identified in the police report.
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.
You can read the report on the consultation . It ran from 10 June until 25 July 2016 and 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%).
Those aware of its history will know 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.
Plans for Crossrail2 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. Here is a detailed presentation describing the plans as they stood at November 2015.
The Crossrail2 consultation ran until Friday 8 January 2016. Our Independent Ward Councillors contributed to Merton's cross-party response to the consultation which can be viewed here.
Crossrail2 published their initial response to many of the issues raised during the consultation in July 2016. This is available to view on their website.
They are still working on several issues that attracted feedback in the consultation and in light of some of the recommendations made by the National Infrastructure Commission and the Government’s response.
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."
For Merton a key step will the preparation of the Wimbledon Masterplan . Originally planned to be created during 2016, the timetable has slipped into 2017. 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. A full consultation report of the workshops will be published soon and will be accessible on this website, along with the next steps in the masterplan process.
The "Friends of Wimbledon Town Centre" is a non- political group keeping a watching eye on Crossrail2 developments. You can access their website here.
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 Crossrail2 will definitely happen but there have been some important developments which all suggest that it will go ahead
- The National Infrastructure Commission was asked to review the strategic case for Crossrail 2. It concluded in March 2016 that Crossrail 2 should be taken forward as a priority and that funding should be made available now to develop the scheme fully with the aim of submitting a hybrid bill by autumn 2019. This would enable Crossrail 2 to open in 2033.
- In response, a week later the Government and Transport for London announced they will provide £160m to develop Crossrail 2 further with the aim of tabling a hybrid bill before the next General Election in 2020.
- Crossrail 2 reports into Transport for London and the Mayor of London. The Mayor Sadiq Khan has previously made clear his support for Crossrail 2 in principle but that he is mindful of the concerns about the disruption in Wimbledon.
- Sadiq Khan has appointed two key transport advisers. Lord Andrew Adonis will be Chair of the Crossrail 2 Board. He is also chair of the National Infrastructure Commission mentioned above. In addition, Val Shawcross has been appointed Deputy Mayor for Transport and Deputy Chair of Transport for London. She has served as a London Assembly member for 16 years, including eight years as chair and deputy chair of the London Assembly transport committee.
We have been told that all the alternative options will still mean significant disruption to Wimbledon Town Centre.
Before the general election was called, Crossrail had been working to the timetable set by the Government and TfL leading to a Hybrid Bill to be tabled in Parliament in 2019.
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".
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, where at least 1,000 flats are planned. 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 26% 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 Morden in the future.
Learn more from this links to the proposal approved by council on 12 April:
Wholly Owned Local Authority Property Company (LAPC)
We updated residents about proposed boundary changes in the 2016 Autumn edition of FORUM. Their aim is to level up the size of electorates, so that every vote carries the same weight, and to reduce the total number of MPs from 650 to 600. London will see a reduction from 73 to 68 seats. The two seats in our borough are each too small for the new range of 71,031 to 78,507 electors per constituency.
Wimbledon has an electorate of 65,853, while Mitcham and Morden has 68,474 electors. Under the current proposals the neat division of Merton into two constituencies wholly within the borough will go. Instead, eight wards from Wimbledon and four wards from Mitcham will be combined in a new constituency, Merton and Wimbledon Central. Merton Park Ward is in the new constituency. However the eight wards outside the new constituency are divided four ways as shown on page 4 of our Autumn FORUM:
Why should this matter? As we pointed out in more detail in our Autumn FORUM, these Merton wards will form only a small part of the electorate of their new constituencies, and their MPs may be more focussed on their own town centres – Putney, Tooting, Streatham and Sutton.
The Boundary Commission's website www.bce2018.org.uk displays all the responses to its 12 week consultation last year. (Wimbledon residents contributed the second highest number of responses in the UK.) By going to the website and entering your postcode you can see every submission made in the local area.
Changes to your NHS
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 will hold the NHS to account. We also heard from a new group, Merton Residents' Healthcare Forum , who see that a huge number of residents are completely unaware of their right to be consulted in the way their local NHS is run.
To see the presentation on the NHS and Merton Healthwatch click here .
To read the latest Newsletter from Merton Healthwatch click here
To contact Merton Residents' Healthcare Forum email here .
New Nelson Health Centre Opened April 1, 2015
To mark the opening of the new Nelson Health Centre, Dr Martyn Wake addressed the MPWRA at their April 2015 meeting attended by 105 people.
Dr Sion Gibby from NHS Merton Care Commissioning Group also talked us in February 2015 about the Health Centre. Here again is the five-minute video we publicised in our last FORUM newsletter which “walks through” the new Nelson:
Here is a newsletter produced by the GP surgeries which contains a Q & A section covering some of the queries raised on February 3.
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 will include out-patient appointments, therapy services, and minor surgery, x-ray, ultrasound and community mental health services.
In March Harris Federation ran a statutory consultation on the opening of Harris Wimbledon School from September 2018. You can view the explanatory booklet about the school here. Page 6 outlines the proposed admissions policy for consultation.
The new secondary school is to open in September 2018 with 120 year 7 places before moving to its permanent admission number of 180 in 2019. 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.
Merton's Budget 2017
At our March meeting, Caroline Holland, Merton's Director of Corporate Services, talked us through the budget for 2017/18. A copy of the slides can be viewed here.
Wandle Valley Forum
Wandle Fortnight:. Wandle Valley Forum organised dozens of events in September to celebrate the rich cultural, environmental and historical legacy of the Wandle Valley. See the full programme at WVF .
At our AGM in July we voted unanimously to join over 80 other community groups, voluntary organisations and businesses who back the Wandle Valley Forum.
Wandle Valley Forum was established in 2005. It brings 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, 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 will be many events in September in their Wandle Valley Fortnight and they are also awarding grants to local groups to celebrate the river.
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.
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 .
Last summer 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. We thought residents would value this short newspaper comment on just how serious it is to have the plant on your property.
Sutton Tramlink Proposals
A consultation was held from mid-July to mid-August 2014 to seek the views of Merton residents on outline plans to extend Tramlink From Wimbledon to Sutton via Morden. Under the scheme, Tramlink would extend from Morden Road along a new track passing Morden and going to Sutton via St Helier Avenue.
There could be significant benefits but also considerable local implications from any such scheme, notably in its impact on local traffic flows which were a matter of concern to many residents when we were canvassing for the local elections earlier this year.
MPWRA made a formal response. You can read it if you click here
We were pleased to see that MPWRA views on the scheme were reflected in the report on the consultation - click here for the summary - click here for the full report
Primary school places in Merton were discussed at the September 2010 meeting of the MPWRA and Secondary School places were the topic in March 2014. To see the background slides presented by Tom Proctor, LBM Service Manager for Schools Organisation, click here .
Sites and Polices Development Plan
This document contains detailed planning policies to help assess planning applications in Merton. It also allocates sites for redevelopment between 2013 and 2023. Related documents update town centre boundaries, areas of open space and nature conservation, shopping frontages, industrial areas and show sites allocated for specific developments.
Its impact will be far-reaching. It was the subject of consultation in 2012 and 2013. MPWRA commented on the plans to Merton Council. To view the documents, click here .
Borough Character Studies
Character Studies are a component of Merton's Development Plan. To see the studies in detail click here and go to 'Introduction to Borough Character Studies'
Background item: Development in Merton - how does it work?
Frankly, development in Merton is an enormous topic. But it is guided by four key documents:
Merton's Core Planning Strategy 2011 - this sets the overall framework for regeneration and development.
The South London Waste Plan 2012 - this is a joint Development Plan Document drawn up by Merton and the three neighbouring boroughs of Kingston, Croydon and Sutton. It is due to be adopted in early 2012 and contains detailed planning policies to guide planning applications for waste facilities and identifies specific areas as suitable for new waste facilities. (You can read more about SWLP on their website .)
The Mayor of London's Plan 2011 - guides all London boroughs on issues for the benefit of the whole of London such as the number of new homes to be built in London, the size of town cnntres and transport issues.
Merton's Unitary Development Plan (UDP) 2003 and adopted Proposals Map 2003 - these contain detailed planning policies and allocate sites for specific uses. Some UDP policies have been superseded by the three other documents listed here.
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. That future starts now. There are many steps we can all take. We are collecting links to opportunities, organisations and ideas to help turn all 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.
The Care Act 2014
At our meeting on October 6 2015 Dan Short, Interim Head of Redesign at LBM described the key features of The Care Act 2014 . Here are the slides he presented and an information note
Croydon Merton & Sutton Credit Union
Last September 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.
You may recall the Archbishop of Canterbury recently advocating credit unions as a way of "putting the payday loan companies out of business".
To learn more, click here.
After our AGM in July 2015, John Hawkes gave us a talk on Merton Priory. The visitor centre opens on the Abbey site in 2016. To learn more about this exciting development click here .
Local Guardian Newspaper
The newspaper is delivered each week. You may not always receive your copy or you may want to search previous editions. To read the Wimbledon Guardian click here . For the Mitcham & Morden edition, click here .