Conservative Manifesto London Borough of Sutton Local Elections 6th May 2010
Finance & Value for Money
Law & Order, Safer Streets
Adult Social Services
Child Social Services
Cleaner Streets, the Environment and Waste
Putting Residents First
Foreword - Councillor Paul Scully, Leader of the Opposition, London Borough of Sutton Sutton is a good place to live. I’ve lived and worked here for the last twenty four years, with two children in great Sutton schools. However, it can be so much better. On the 6th May, residents in Sutton have an important choice on who guides the Borough through the difficult next four years. We have seen the track record of the incumbent Liberal Democrat Council. The introduction of a £35 per bag green garden waste charge caused such anger that it was quickly scrapped, but not before the Council spent £800,000 of taxpayers’ money on the U-turn. £300,000 was spent on the blue bins for glass collection which quickly became surplus to requirements. An eye-watering £8,500,000 has been ploughed into the controversial Sutton Life Centre, a pet project that has only 5% of the bookings necessary to break even and avoid Sutton council taxpayers bailing it out again. Nearly every political administration reaches the end of its shelf-life when it starts to forget what it set out to achieve. This Liberal Democrat Council is one such example. The Conservative group of councillors and candidates have spent three years researching every part of Sutton life which the Council touches and visited successful councils around Britain to see how they have responded to the challenges we face in Sutton. Some of the best examples have found their way into our manifesto pledges directly, others have been adapted to meet our local situation. Some pledges have been as a result of imaginative thinking here locally. All have been thoroughly researched and costed. All local authorities face tough times in the next few years. The unprecedented recession is only just starting to hit local government and we need to make sure that we are ready. We will be open and honest about what we can and cannot do as a Council, replacing spin with frank debate. We are elected by you and should represent residents in the Civic Offices, not thrusting a corporate opinion on local people. Clearer, direct communication with people, the determination to do more for less of taxpayers’ money and the strong political leadership to introduce real zero-tolerance policing are the three main differences that you will find under a Conservative-run Sutton Council. I hope that you will give us a chance to make this happen by voting for your three Conservative candidates on 6th May.
OUR 10 KEY PLEDGES TO YOU 1. Aim to freeze Council Tax for 4 years. 2. Zero-Tolerance Policing. 3. Support Local shops with measures including easier, affordable parking. 4. Protect Sutton’s family homes and back gardens from insensitive development. 5. Reward residents for recycling. 6. Publish all Council spending over £500 online, increasing transparency. 7. Review all licences of problem pubs & clubs, starting within the first 100 days. 8. Ballot residents to remove unnecessary road humps. 9. Offer a priority and discount card, putting Sutton residents first. 10. Give a 50% council tax rebate to residents on active duty for the Armed Forces overseas.
Finance & Value for Money FACT: The two most expensive London Borough Councils are run by the Liberal Democrats. The Councils with the lowest tax are run by the Conservatives – people living in the London Boroughs of Wandsworth and Westminster pay less than half of what Sutton residents pay. This clearly demonstrates that with a dedicated approach, it is possible to provide first rate services with value for money. Sutton deserves an administration that will deliver without charging its residents for its own mistakes. Sutton Council has £5 million of taxpayers’ money frozen in a failed Icelandic Bank and has accumulated debts of over £60 million. The cost of servicing this debt comes from council tax. Sutton now faces tough times. The money available to local councils is going to become subject to very tight financial constraints due to Gordon Brown’s debt crisis. Sutton’s political leadership failed to put money aside during the good times leaving us poorly prepared financially in
WE BELIEVE: Council tax hits household budgets in Sutton. Driving down the cost of the Council will be at the centre of everything an incoming Conservative administration will do. Council tax should not be so high. Quality services and real value for money can, and should, go hand in hand. Other Councils deliver excellent services for much less. With the ongoing recession and the strain on household budgets, Conservatives believe that Sutton Council should not take a penny more of council tax from residents for four years. This is our pledge. Sutton Council spends far too much time chasing Government targets that mean nothing to local people. Under Conservative leadership, council staff will work to targets that people in Sutton set, not those of Government bureaucrats.
YOUR CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL WILL: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.
With the help of a Conservative Government, work to freeze council tax for four years - not taking a penny more from local taxpayers. Publish all Sutton Council expenditure above £500 so taxpayers can see how their money is being spent. Give members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces deployed on active service overseas a 50% council tax discount. Our troops are not using council services and should not have to pay for them. Freeze councillors’ allowances and the pay for the most senior council staff in the first year. Reduce the total cost of politicians in Sutton Council. Cut payments to Local Committee Chairmen by half. Freeze additional council staff recruitment for at least two years. Substantially reduce Sutton Council’s dependence on outside consultants. Create a Value for Money cabinet post with responsibility for cutting waste, attacking red tape bureaucracy to drive down the cost of Sutton Council. Establish a Value for Money Scrutiny Watchdog to hold the Cabinet Member for Value for Money to account. Competitively review all major contracts in Sutton to ensure that the best value for money is achieved. Look to open up Council business opportunities to local traders and firms. Undertake a comprehensive review of the Council’s asset base to achieve maximum value for the management of publicly owned assets. Work with neighbouring Councils to increase shared services and to tackle the duplication of services and bureaucracy. Target benefit cheats who cost the average Sutton household over £100 per year. Work to reduce Sutton Council’s debt so that money can return to frontline services and tax cuts for residents.
Law & Order - Safer Streets FACT: Sutton has the third smallest police force in Greater London. Recent research shows that 64% of residents feel that crime and antisocial behaviour has made their area less safe. This has a negative impact on residents’ quality of life. Not all parts of the Borough have the same fear of crime and antisocial behaviour. However, crime is the top concern across the Borough with Central Sutton suffering the highest crime rates. The Metropolitan Police has labelled Sutton High Street as one of London’s top eight binge drinking “hotspots”. This is a record of failure after 24 years of Liberal Democrat control.
WE BELIEVE: Reducing crime and the fear of crime will be a top target for a Conservative administration from day one. Current recorded crime may be low compared to neighbouring boroughs, but it can never be low enough. In the north of the Borough 47% of residents do not feel safe in their area after dark with 46% of residents feeling the same in Sutton town centre: this is unacceptable to residents and to us. With around 320 officers stationed in the Borough and only a small number deployed at any one time, we believe police officers should be out on the beat rather than sitting in offices doing paperwork. Operational policing is a matter for the professionals but a Conservative-run Council has a key role to play as the accountable face of law and order in Sutton, working alongside Sutton’s police force. The ruling Liberal Democrats have not been straight with local people on public disorder in Sutton. Under their 24 year rule there has been an explosion in licences granted to pubs and clubs in the town centre making it unfriendly, unwelcoming and unsafe at night times. We will not let this continue unchecked.
YOUR CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL WILL: 17. Use and develop the Safer Sutton Partnership Service (SSPS) to push for REAL zero-tolerance policing. 18. Use council powers to give local Constables the power to break up and move on rowdy gangs of youths, known as ‘Dispersal Orders’ – this is a move which the ruling Liberal Democrats have always resisted. 19. Make use of the Council’s influence through SSPS for tougher enforcement of drinking bans and ‘No Drinking Zones’ in public places. 20. Increase standard powers for Police Community Support Officers (PCSO). This will include Chief Officer’s discretionary powers for PCSOs extending to fixed penalty notices for disorder offences, truancy, dog fouling, graffiti and fly-posting, and dealing with beggars. 21. In the first 100 days, liaise with the Police to review all premises licences, as a matter of course, starting with the well known trouble hotspots and to shut them down if necessary. 22. Use a Conservative Government’s planned changes to allow Sutton Council to charge more for late licences to pay for additional policing costs. This will include reviewing licensing hours to clamp down on disorder. 23. Take action against antisocial and yobbish tenants in Council-owned properties. We will do this by establishing a new policy of tough but fair ‘introductory tenancies’ – a probationary period to ensure responsible tenancy. 24. Work with the Police and Sutton Housing Partnership to ensure that repeat nuisance tenants are dealt with or evicted. Good tenants should not suffer because the Council is too soft on irresponsible and antisocial tenants. 25. Use the Council’s role as a Local Education Authority to combat the minority of school children whose behaviour in public places or on public transport causes disturbance.
Adult Social Services FACT: Sutton Council faces significant challenges in the delivery of adult social services. Local government estimates show that 84% of local councils are facing additional costs of nearly £2 million each in 2010 resulting from an ageing population. The number of people aged 60+ in Sutton is expected to rise to nearly 22% of the population in 2026. Thanks to improvements in care and treatment the number of adults with complex difficulties will rise by more than 53% in Sutton by 2021. Adult Social Care is changing to ‘personalised’ services tailored to the individual’s needs. This is intended to maximise personal freedom and choice. Not only will we improve quality of life through the promotion of independent living, we will help limit unsustainable costs in the future.
WE BELIEVE: Adult Social Services is a core service. Caring for the vulnerable is a moral duty as well as a legal one. We support the work of our Adult Social Services Department in increasing personalised services and the direct payment of funds to individuals, allowing them to take control of their own care and support. We do however, believe that all those receiving support must receive the right level of care and support as the changes take place. We will build a stronger, equitable and trusting partnership with our voluntary sector organisations in delivering personalised and individually tailored support. The expertise is out there and the Council should listen to, and learn from, the voluntary experts more.
YOUR CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL WILL: 26. Ensure that the quality of services are improved and to work with providers to achieve this. 27. Prioritise frontline services over departmental bureaucracy; ensuring carers spend more time with service users and less time behind a desk. 28. Push for more engagement in joint commissioning with the local NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT), private agencies and the voluntary sector to ensure that independent living is promoted and value for money is achieved. 29. Work hard to promote adult social services to people who may have needs but have not taken up their entitlements – ensuring that promotional material is jargon-free. 30. Tackle stigma where it prevents people from taking up the services which they are entitled to. 31. Work to shape and build a strong market for adult social services locally to increase the choice for service users. 32. Ensure that social care workers have the skills and support they need from managers to deliver high quality services. 33. Research ways to help bring members of the voluntary sector together in both a physical sense as a ‘one-stop shop’ or ‘hub’ and in a virtual sense with shared information and services. 34. Investigate the introduction of a debit card for direct payments to avoid bureaucracy and increase efficiency, whilst also empowering the service user to shape their own care programme. Success stories elsewhere have shown this can increase take up of care services by up to 20%.
Children’s Services FACT: Local authorities have legal duties under statutory legislation to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Sutton Council is a ‘Corporate Parent’ by law, with a responsibility to do the best for looked after children in its care. Recent reviews show that Sutton Council’s child social services are deemed to be ‘adequate’ with some services described as ‘insufficient’. Inspectors have criticised the Corporate Parent role in Sutton, the instability of short-term care placements, poor supported accommodation for care leavers, insufficient engagement of young people in service planning and poor information regarding child social care. Educational performance for looked after children also needs improvement. Primary results for looked after children have declined over the last three years. At Secondary School (GCSE and GNVQ) results vary from year-to-year. Over the last four years, several local youth clubs have been shut down. Residents’ surveys show that youth provision is one of the services most in need of improvement.
WE BELIEVE: There is a strong moral duty for the Council to do the very best it can for children and young people in social care in Sutton. Councillors need to be more aware of their responsibilities as Corporate Parents. Difficulties for young people leaving the care system do not vanish overnight. Many care leavers need ongoing support in managing personal finances and acquiring accommodation. Looked after children deserve the very best the Borough can offer. Educational achievement is a key indicator of how the Council, as a Corporate Parent, is performing. Sutton’s successful school system should look at ways to make this excellence work for vulnerable young people. Youth provision need not be the sole domain of the Council and that effective services benefit the community as a whole as well as young people.
YOUR CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL WILL: 35. Ensure that frontline services in child social care are prioritised over departmental bureaucracy, minimising unnecessary paperwork to free up staff allowing them to spend more time making a real difference to the lives of children in care and those at risk. 36. Strengthen the role of the Corporate Parent in the Council by mandatory training for every councillor regarding their legal responsibilities. 37. Ensure that child social care workers have the skills and support they need to deliver high quality services especially in safeguarding vulnerable children, through regular reviews with frontline staff. 38. Make sure that young people leaving care receive the support they need for accommodation and personal financial management. 39. Engage with looked after children and young people in shaping their service through involving them more directly in service planning. 40. Trust the Voluntary Sector and invest in effective not expensive youth services. 41. Provide youth services that provide something new and relevant, not simply replicating established school lessons.
The Environment, Cleaner Streets and Minimising Waste FACT: Sutton Council promotes itself on its green credentials, claiming to be one of the first councils to embrace the environmental agenda. The majority of residents (57%) are concerned about the amount of household rubbish produced in Sutton. A decade on the Council ranks 213th out of 394 waste authorities for its recycling performance, leaving Sutton behind the London Boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Richmond-upon-Thames. As a Borough, Sutton sends nearly 70% of its waste to landfill and recycles only 22% of all produced rubbish while landfill tax is set to reach £40 per tonne on top of the actual cost of land fill. To date, the Liberal Democrats have failed to meet their last manifesto promise to reach 50% recycling by a long way. Sutton has over 1800 hectares of green belt, parks and public open space. Sutton rates higher than average for tree population in Greater London with approximately 40 trees per hectare. Sadly, Sutton’s Liberal Democrat administration has presided over a tree massacre. In the period 20042006 the Council replanted only 19.5% of trees felled and during 2007-2008 it replaced 59.5%. Sutton Council’s currently replants a mere 80 new trees per year. Trees form a natural barrier against CO2 emissions and other airborne pollutants. Additionally, 38% of residents say that their area has got worse due to perceived environmental/cleanliness decline. Sutton is at risk of urban sprawl as a result of the passive Liberal Democrat approach to the development of back garden land. Twelve out of eighteen council wards in Sutton are above the London average density of population. Official figures show that Sutton is one of the top four London Boroughs for the development of ‘brownfield sites’, which includes back garden land.
WE BELIEVE: Real action on green issues and the environment means more focus on action and less on PR and spin. The amount of waste recycled in Sutton is unimpressive, with over two thirds of Sutton’s waste going to landfill. A Conservative administration will tackle and reduce this unsustainable statistic as a priority. Much of the Liberal Democrats’ green boasts trade on past glories; its performance on recycling does not match the rhetoric. Their aims are broad but their delivery is narrow. Our responsibility is not to settle for a Borough that feels good about recycling, but one that is actually good at recycling. People should be rewarded for doing the right thing, not hammered for doing the ‘wrong’ thing. Recent statistics show that 57% of residents have said they will recycle more if offered a financial incentive, while incentive based recycling programmes have already shown increases in recycling by as much as 200%.
YOUR CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL WILL: 42. Reward residents who recycle through an incentive-based recycling scheme. We will provide financial rewards funded through reduced landfill taxes. 43. Let local people decide by holding a referendum on the retention of weekly waste collections. 44. Scrap costly environmental schemes which do not have proven environmental outcomes for our Borough. 45. Cut fees to eco-consultants and invest in grassroots practical methods of reducing CO2 emissions, and improving the quality of our green suburban environment. 46. Look to join the ‘Green Deal’ initiative, under a Conservative Government, which will enable residents to have access to up to £6,500 of energy efficiency improvements to their homes in order to directly reduce fuel bills and CO2 emissions. 47. Review our current recyclable waste collection service for commercial premises to see if we can make it more competitive, whilst commercially viable, in order to increase take up, thus reducing business waste sent to landfill. 48. Trial arrangements to make it easier to recycle litter on our streets by rolling out recycling bins next to conventional street bins. 49. Halt the unnecessary felling of trees and increase tree replanting to ensure our Borough’s healthy tree population remains the envy of South London. 50. Work with property developers to volunteer tree planting as a way of compensating residents for any loss of amenity arising from their building projects. 51. Ensure that tree replanting programmes are right for the area. This means trees which are native to the Borough and in keeping with the local character of the area. 52. Clean up the Borough through a zero-tolerance approach to graffiti and fly-tipping by creating an ‘Environmental Crimes Unit’ within the Safer Sutton Partnership Service. 53. Reinstate the popular Adopt-a-Bank community recycling scheme, which enabled community groups, like the Scouts and Girl Guides, to ‘adopt’ a recycling bank, keeping it clear and tidy in return for payment based on the tonnage of recycled material. We will also seek sponsorship for this scheme. 54. Increase enforcement against thoughtless High Street businesses that leave their rubbish in the streets out of kilter with collection dates. 55. Seek to raise awareness of recycling and waste reduction measures with the 43% of residents who say they are not concerned, or are disengaged, with the amount of rubbish produced by households this year. We will seek to influence people through education and incentives rather than heavyhanded punitive measures.
Housing FACT: Sutton’s housing stock is managed by Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) on behalf of the Council. Sutton’s council housing has been rated as among the worst in the country in recent years. After twenty five years of chronic underinvestment Sutton’s Council Housing has been rated as in the worst 25% nationwide, with much of it failing the nationwide ‘Decent Homes Standard’. The Government’s definition of a ‘decent home’ is to be “warm, weatherproof and have reasonably modern facilities”. In order to access funding to meet the Decent Homes Standard a ‘Two Star’ rating is required from a Government watchdog. After a U-turn from the Labour Housing Minister, the hard work of dedicated SHP staff in finally obtaining the Two Star rating was put in jeopardy by a short-sighted legal challenge from the Liberal Democrat political leadership in Sutton.
WE BELIEVE: Sutton’s tenants are paying the price for 24 years of failed delivery and under investment in our council housing stock and an inability to attract external funding. Poor housing gives an area a bad reputation, makes places unpopular to live in and leads to the breakdown of our communities. Local Liberal Democrat MPs and councillors should have been straight with tenants about the consistent lack of investment, rather than cynically attempting to manipulate the issue by blaming the Labour Government. As Conservative councillors, we have conducted our own inspections and have documented unacceptable conditions in properties across the Borough, including heavily outdated single-glazed windows, regularly failing boilers and overlooked fire hazards in high rise tower blocks. Empty properties are a wasted resource. It is important to be clear on who is responsible for bringing them back to use, thus meeting local demand should be clear with minimum bureaucracy. Good tenants must be valued and retained, and antisocial tenants should be dealt with firmly and effectively. Antisocial and nuisance behaviour from a minority is a 24-hour problem not a nine-tofive issue. The Council needs policies to reflect that tenants pay rent for a service as customers and deserve to live in peace from nuisance neighbours. Lacklustre efforts in protecting and rewarding good tenants and taking actions against bad ones are unacceptable.
YOUR CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL WILL: 56. Prioritise tasks such as repairs and maintenance over red tape and bureaucracy. 57. Examine all available options for the delivery of social housing in the Borough including closer working with the private sector. 58. Consult with tenants as customers in an open and honest way. We will achieve the nationwide decent home standard and ‘adequate’ will no longer be good enough for council tenants. 59. Carry out random spot checks on SHP maintained properties, with the Cabinet Member for Housing, an elected colleague and a senior housing officer or qualified official. 60. Look to introduce fair but tough ‘introductory tenancies’ to promote responsible tenancy and to root out irresponsible tenants via an established probationary period. This will reflect our Zero Tolerance approach to nuisance neighbours. 61. Always bring the full force of the Council’s eviction powers to oust antisocial and nuisance tenants. 62. Support Conservative plans for Government to expand access to home ownership through rewarding good tenants with equity stakes in their homes, offering tenants with five years of good tenant behaviour a 10% equity share in their social rented property, cashable when they leave the social rented sector. 63. Improve and invest in antisocial and nuisance 24-hour response services with closer working with the Police and SHP, to provide swift action to complaints. Investment will be funded through improved efficiencies in SHP administration. 64. Use plain English in tenancy agreements and leases. 65. Ensure that empty properties are turned around quickly in order to meet local social housing needs. 66. Support Conservative plans for an Empty Property Rescue Scheme, which will bring privately owned empty properties back into use, increasing social housing supply. It will also enable people on the social housing waiting list (without priority need) to undertake necessary renovations themselves and take on tenancies with the possibility of a reward via an equity stake in the property. 67. Review the current allocation policies to ensure that they fit local housing needs.
Planning FACT: Our Borough is made up of a collection of ‘villages’ merged to form the London Borough of Sutton in 1965, but each still has a distinct character, history and heritage. Intense overdevelopment, and back garden grabbing is eroding these individual local identities. Around 70% of Wards in the Borough exceed the South West London average for population density. The amount of land in Sutton with the designation ‘urban’ is increasing with official figures showing that the Borough is the joint fourth highest for the development ‘Brownfield’ sites, which includes back garden land. The overwhelming minority of planning applications (8%) are ever heard by democratically elected councillors with 92% being heard by unaccountable council officers. In part, this is due to Government top-down ‘targets’. When the Council’s planning committee refuses applications 55% are overturned on appeal (above the national average) by planning law experts in Bristol with no local knowledge.
WE BELIEVE: Sutton is a nice place to live because of its suburban character. Sadly, this character is and has changed over the last 24 years. Overdevelopment and poorly thought out development is ruining neighbourhoods with more and more back gardens falling prey to developers despite empty promises from the Council’s Liberal Democrat administration. The Council’s political leadership often fail to take into account the views of local residents in planning policies. Sutton Council’s political leadership has an attitude to planning where planning is ‘done to residents’ rather than ‘community and people-centred’. Many members of the public feel dissatisfied with the Council’s planning service. Because this is one of the most ‘tangible’ local government services, this must change. Sutton needs a vision. Good planning, ambition and realistic goals can preserve communities, stimulate the local economy and send the message out that Sutton is a good place for business and to do business. Sutton’s political leadership has failed to develop such a vision with the town centre falling behind major shopping centres such as Croydon and Kingston.
YOUR CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL WILL: 68. Introduce a satisfaction survey for residents alongside rigorous planning service performance assessments. 69. Reform Sutton’s planning service to make it more user-friendly and accessible. 70. Use all of the Council’s planning powers to prevent further destruction of family and elderly-friendly housing. 71. Use all existing powers in planning law to save back gardens from the developers’ bulldozers, rather than just empty words and broken promises. 72. Work to ensure that all development is in keeping with existing infrastructure capacity, including GP surgeries, school places, transport, utilities and highways, seeking also to preserve the character and heritage of Sutton’s ‘villages’. 73. Dismantle the current political administration’s ‘top-down’ approach planning by giving much closer consideration to residents’ views. This includes supporting a Conservative Government’s plans for genuine community involvement in planning with the proper canvassing of all relevant parties to avoid confrontation in favour of cooperation to deliver the best outcomes for the community and neighbourhoods. 74. Reform the functions of the Council’s planning committee to allow residents more time to voice their views to the committee. The current system does not provide sufficient time for cases to be made. 75. Bring in an approach to planning appeals that means the Council and its planning committee is not bound by the ‘financial handcuffs’ of wealthy developers with the threat of costly appeals. Residents come first. 76. Recognise the need for affordable housing for rent and purchase for middle and low incomes, whilst making sure that development suits our existing neighbourhoods and with greater consideration given to the needs of local families and young people with local ties to the area. Within the bounds of existing planning law, a Conservative-run Council will consider the needs of local people first. 77. Back a Conservative Government’s plans to simplify the ‘Section 106’ system under the Town and Country Planning Act so that not only are both individuals and communities properly compensated for the loss of amenity incurred by developments, but also that they benefit from genuine improvements after developments are built. 78. Support reforms by a Conservative Government to guarantee that local councillors have more freedoms to campaign for residents on planning issues.
Education FACT: As a Local Education Authority (LEA) Sutton features highly in national league tables which measures the results of the Borough’s schools rather than resident pupils. The Borough retains a selective school system for secondary education with five grammar schools (three boys’ and two girls’ schools). Sutton’s grammar schools are among the best in the country. Grammar school pupils living in-borough form the minority of our grammar school population. The Borough’s primary schools have varying levels of attainment with a significant number of schools (55%) achieving below average attainment in core subjects at Key Stage2, with a significant minority of primary schools missing average attainment by a long way. Schools located in deprived or disadvantaged areas tend not to do as well as primary schools in more affluent areas leading to entrenched geographical inequalities in attainment. Figures from the Greater London Authority (GLA) project a spike in birth rates in the coming years, which is expected to place considerable pressure on school places in Sutton.
WE BELIEVE: Sutton’s excellent schools should benefit Sutton’s resident pupils first and foremost. Our support for Sutton’s selective school system is clear and unequivocal. Our support for excellence is not limited to our grammars; it extends to our comprehensive and primary schools as well. Every child in the Borough deserves fair opportunities to access to our selective schools through the entrance examination. Those who opt for places in comprehensive education should be offered a place at an excellent comprehensive school. To complement this, we think that Sutton could benefit from a specialist technical school/college to provide the well rounded skills needed in our local job market. Good teachers mean good schools. Excessive operational interference from the LEA can prevent good teachers from doing their job. In the case of selective school entry examinations, the Council should not permit ideological opposition from teachers to the Borough’s grammar schools to prevent our primary pupils from accessing the ladder of opportunity available. Population changes present a clear challenge to Sutton as an LEA. Unless we tackle the issue head on, demand will outstrip supply for school reception places. Weak political leadership will not give the direction we need.
YOUR CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL WILL: 79. Ensure that frontline investment in education is prioritised over departmental bureaucracy in the LEA removing duplication of effort and reducing administration for its own sake. 80. Provide strong political leadership in policy and action to drive up standards in all schools in the Borough, primary and secondary, selective and non-selective. No school will be left behind. 81. Make the opportunity for a grammar school education available equally to every resident pupil. This will be done by using the LEAâ€™s influence to increase the numbers of local primary school pupils taking the entry examinations. This will include tackling the ideological opposition to the system which exists in some schoolsâ€™ teaching staff and parts of the Council. 82. Look to simplify the school catchment area system, exploring better systems elsewhere, for example the London Borough of Ealing which bases catchment areas on geographical reality rather than crude distance measurements. This will include clear published information without jargon for parents. 83. Lobby Government for a technical secondary school in Sutton, including the option of seeking sponsorship for an Academy. 84. Review the need for additional schools, both primary and secondary and to lobby Government accordingly.
Transport FACT: Transport is one of the top issues for Sutton’s residents. It ranks as the fourth most important service, with 41% of residents saying that they want congestion tackled. Reducing car use has clear benefits in limiting traffic growth and easing congestion. It also improves health and wellbeing for local residents by minimising carbon dioxide emissions. Figures from the Department for Transport show that car use in Sutton is rising. Currently, 58% of residents travel by car in contrast to 2% who cycle. Of this 2%, only 13% use their bicycle to travel to and from work. Alternatives to car use also include public transport. Sutton Council’s own data show that there are problems with residents’ accessibility to public transport with some areas classed as having ‘extremely poor access’. Bureaucracy often prevents Sutton Council in responding quicker and adapting faster to changes in transport needs. Over the last two and a half years, residents residing within ‘Controlled Parking Zones’ (CPZ) have had free parking hours for visitors slashed by 75%.
WE BELIEVE: Sutton’s Liberal Democrat Manifesto for the last election was silent on reducing car dependency with only vague references to the principle of ‘car free areas’. We believe that overall reductions in car dependency are essential in providing relief to the pressure on our roads and reducing CO2 emissions, but the Council should avoid punitive measures in changing transport habits. Instead, we favour encouraging greener behaviour. The Liberal Democrat political leadership has an established and well-documented preference to ‘hard’ punitive transport options, amounting to a ‘war against residents’ through heavy-handed reductions in residents’ parking entitlements, over-reliance on road humps and anti-car policies – all enacted without adequate consultation. Conservatives have recently demonstrated their commitment to working with residents, not against them, by successfully halting unwanted planned road humps in their tracks at the Carshalton and Clockhouse Local Committee. We give credit to the cross-party Smarter Travel Sutton initiative because as Conservatives we believe in working with residents by making other modes of transport easier and more attractive.
YOUR CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL WILL: 85. Ballot residents on the removal of road humps in their roads when they are resurfaced by the Council. 86. Restore in full the 200 free hours for Controlled Parking Zone residents’ visitors, previously removed by the ruling Liberal Democrats. 87. Introduce a ‘Priority Card’ for Sutton residents giving preferential rates for parking facilities in the Borough. 88. Implement a rolling review programme of all Controlled Park Zones where there are residents’ concerns. This review programme will take the form of genuine consultation with doorstep polling of residents and businesses in affected areas. 89. Ensure that the number of grit bins in the Borough is substantially increased to improve residents’ access in icy and snowy conditions to enable them to grit their own roads and driveways. Currently, there is only one grit bin per 1,200 residents. 90. Ensure that Winter Highways Maintenance Budgets are protected from cuts and that there is sufficient provision to patch up dangerous potholes. 91. Consult with local businesses in our outlying shopping district centres to shape more successful parking schemes to help to stimulate our local economies. 92. Make alternatives to car use easier through cycle friendly schemes. 93. Work with the Mayor of London and Transport for London to ensure that Sutton is prioritised as an area for transport infrastructure investments. 94. Actively support the extension of public transport schemes in the Borough, including tram links.
Putting Residents First FACT: Official figures show that the number of residents who feel informed about Sutton Council’s services and benefits has plummeted over the last ten years. The clear majority of residents (62%) want to know what the Council is doing. Sutton does not compare favourably with its neighbours in keeping residents informed. Over a third of residents do not feel well informed about how their council tax is spent and 45% say that they are not well informed about how to get involved in local decision making. Statistically, local people are more likely to say that they cannot influence council services in their area. As a local authority, Sutton has a legal duty to provide a large number of services but compiling a definitive list is impossible. Sutton spends a lot of time jumping through hoops for the Labour Government often carrying a cost burden to local taxpayers.
WE BELIEVE: Sutton’s taxpayers have no choice in the payment of council tax. But this does not mean that the Council’s political leadership should exploit their position to use the public purse as a plaything. Recent pet projects are prime examples of this, such as the controversial Sutton Life Centre. Residents were not consulted on the project (now costing over £9million) and their views were not sought in any way. Sutton has seen relentless above-inflation council tax rises since its creation coupled with minimal consultation with residents – the last two Liberal Democrat budgets having consulted less than 0.05% of the Borough’s population. We believe this is wrong. Similarly, the Council needs to have an honest examination of the services it provides with primary services like road maintenance, social care and waste collections at the top the funding priority list. Secondary and tertiary ‘services’ which are not statutory and with no proven outcomes for residents should not continue to expand unchecked. Residents must be treated as customers rather than an inexhaustible overdraft for pet political priorities. With tough times facing local government finance, Sutton Council cannot continue spending on its current rate – this means the services residents need and want must be safeguarded. In our view, this includes the quality of life services such as cultural and heritage services, and library and leisure services. In order to do this the Council needs to change its approach to consultation and communication. Because residents pay for local services they should be at the front of the queue for the benefits they provide. This is why we believe in a system which puts local taxpayers first, shaped around customer needs.
YOUR CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL WILL: 95. Put the needs and satisfaction of residents ahead of Government targets. 96. Undertake rigorous and meaningful consultation with residents ahead of crucial decisions affecting frontline services. 97. Look to create a new service priority card scheme for residents. This will give preferential rates for council services, like parking, leisure and discounts and promotions in local business. 98. Reform the Councilâ€™s magazine Sutton Scene to make it entirely self-funding with no cost to the taxpayer. 99. Safeguard the existing level of leisure provision on the Cheam Leisure Centre site in Malden Road, including seeking outside investment. 100.Work with a range of providers to enhance overall leisure provision in all parts of the Borough.
DONâ€™T JUST HOPE FOR A BETTER SUTTON... ...VOTE FOR IT ON THURSDAY MAY 6TH.
Published & Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of SC&WPCA, both at Donnington House, 2a Sutton Court Road, Sutton, SM1 4SY Published & Promoted by Eric Pillinger on behalf of CWCA, both at Danbury House, Danbury Mews, Wallington, SM6 0BY
100 pledges to bring positive change to Sutton at the local council elections to be held on 6th May 2010 in the London Borough of Sutton.