Merton Council backs People's Vote on Brexit deal

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This week Merton Council backed Liberal Democrat and Labour motions in favour of a People's Vote - a referendum on the final Brexit deal with the option to remain in the EU.
The two motions were passed by Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors, with Conservative and Merton Park Residents Association councillors abstaining both times.
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Council backs step-free stations

Merton Council has passed a Liberal Democrat motion to help get lifts and ramps at local stations.

The plan commits the Council to look into positive action it could take to improve accessibility of stations across the borough, including encouraging and assisting train companies to apply for funding designed to make more stations in Merton accessible, and step-free.

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Labour block investigation into waste collection and street cleaning

2018_Merton_litter_pick.jpgLabour council bosses have blocked investigation into why the street cleaning and bin collection contract is failing.

Lib Dem councillors had proposed a new task group that would focus on: improving Veolia’s performance, training Council employees for the task, and the costs and legal process to maintain weekly bin collections. 

Cllr Anthony Fairclough, Leader of Merton’s Lib Dem councillors said:

“You just have to look down any road in the borough to see missed rubbish and recycling collections, ignored flytips, litter and mess. This seems likely to get worse with the switch to wheelie bins and collecting rubbish fortnightly.

“It’s extraordinary that Labour councillors blocked a new way of looking at these problems in detail and making some recommendations”.

Cllr Fairclough added: 

“It’s also a bit odd that Conservative councillors wouldn’t back our suggestion of looking at ways to restore weekly bin collections and the costs of that. We also wanted a close look at the training and effectiveness of council staff in managing Council contracts, and the problems caused for residents by the roll-out of wheelie bins. Labour blocked these suggestions and the Conservatives refused to support them”.


Weekly performance monitoring: Veolia

Following a formal request from Cllr Anthony Fairclough in August 2018, Merton Council allowed the publication of the "Veolia performance dashboards" from 3 September, a set of weekly statistics that show the performance of Merton's waste collection and street cleaning contractor.

We have been asked to make the following information clear:

"This weekly information is a snapshot of customer reports and inspections and may differ from Monthly performance reports and contractual Service Performance Indicators which are reported on elsewhere. The purpose of this report is to provide a more frequent ‘barometer’ of performance and perceptions."

Weekly performance statistics


We need transparency on "rubbish figures"

Liberal Democrats in Merton have condemned secrecy over waste contractor’s performance.

Deputy leader of Merton Lib Dem councillors, Cllr Carl Quilliam has hit out at the decision not to publish figures on the weekly performance of the Council’s waste contractor, Veolia, on collecting refuse and cleaning our streets.

Cllr Quilliam said:

“We can all see what a poor job Veolia are doing in keeping our streets clean and collecting rubbish and recycling. The Council’s own figures show exactly how bad their performance is.  

“But for some reason councillors aren’t allowed to share these figures with residents. Perhaps Labour are worried it makes them look like they’re failing to hold Veolia to account?

“We have written to Labour Council bosses and the Council’s Chief Executive asking them to make the figures public – and importantly to reveal how much money they’ve managed to claw back from Veolia because of poor performance. If that doesn’t happen soon, we will take this to the next full Council meeting”.


New bin collection days

Merton Council's contractor Veolia began delivering new wheelie bins to residents from 30th July.

Residents should not use the new bins until the new collection service begins on 1st October.

The new bin collection days from 1st October are shown on the right. 

Residents who do not have room to store the wheelie bins should contact Merton council to discuss alternative arrangements (also on 020 8274 4902). You can read more about the changes here.

You can read more about our thoughts on the plan to explain the move and distribute wheelie bins here.

 

 


High Court says decision to close Wimbledon police station unlawful

The High Court has today quashed the decision by the London Mayor to close Wimbledon police station in a ruling that was critical
of his entire consultation into the closing of 37 police stations across the capital.

In today’s judgment, Lord Justice Lindblom and Mr Justice Lewis stated that:

 The consultation process in this case was not conducted well. Both the content and the structure of the consultation document were unsatisfactory. It was markedly less helpful than such documents should be if they are to achieve their purpose in informing a decision on a matter of great significance for a large number of people – here the entire population of the metropolis. The internal documents prepared for meetings had omissions and contained errors. The summary of the consultation responses was not adequate. That is all the more surprising given the importance of the issue –policing and public safety in London.”

In the case of Wimbledon police station this included a failure to properly consider the submission of Merton Liberal Democrats that it was premature to take a decision to close Wimbledon police station, and that any decision to do so should be postponed pending an evaluation of the impact of new technology.

In the opinion of the High Court this was a material matter and the failure to consider it amounted to a clear error of law. In their judgment Lord Justice Lindblom and Mr Justice Lewis conclude: “The decision to close the Wimbledon police station is… unlawful and cannot be allowed to stand.” 

The court also accepted that the point made by Merton Liberal Democrats – that it was premature to take a decision to close Wimbledon police station until a proper assessment had been made of the impact of the introduction of new technology – could have been made in respect of other police stations.

However, in the absence of evidence that it was, the court was not prepared to quash the decision to close the other police stations.

Cllr Paul Kohler commented:

“I am delighted that the High Court agreed with me in holding that the Mayor of London’s entire consultation was unsatisfactory. In the words of the judgment the initial consultation document was ‘incoherent and unhelpful’; the internal documents used by the Mayor’s office ‘had omissions and contained errors’; and the summary of the consultation responses was ‘not adequate’. As the judges said this is ‘all the more surprising given the importance of the issue –policing and public safety in London.’

“In the circumstances, especially after yesterday’s news detailing the increase in crime, particularly violent crime, across the capital, I hope the Mayor of London will take this opportunity to consider the matter afresh and revisit his decision to  close all 37 police stations. In light of the High Court’s finding that it was a material consideration I ask, in particular, that he recognizes the strength of Merton Lib Dems’ submission, that it is premature to make an irreversible decision to close so many police stations before the impact of new technology on community policing has been assessed.

“More broadly I ask him to recognise how important a meaningful consultation is to our democracy. I am not saying I have all the answers and the Mayor of London is always wrong, but I am imploring him to recognize his plans can only be enhanced by adopting a more imaginative response to the funding crisis facing the Met.

“On a personal level I am obviously pleased that the High Court has quashed the decision to close Wimbledon police station and only sorry we did not have similar evidence in respect of the other police stations. Now the court has confirmed that the decision to close it was unlawful, I respectfully ask the Mayor to address the concerns of Merton Lib Dems, that were ignored in the original consultation, and recognize it would be premature to close Wimbledon police station before there has been time to assess the impact of new technology.”

Tessa Gregory a partner at the law firm Leigh Day who represented Cllr Kohler in the judicial review stated:

“Our client is delighted that the court has today quashed the decision of the Mayor’s Office to close and sell his local police station in Wimbledon. Whilst the court did not consider it had the necessary evidence to quash the decision to close other police stations across London, it was highly critical in its judgment of the way in which the whole consultation was conducted.

“The judges noted that these failings were particularly surprising given the importance of the issue: the policing and public safety of the capital. Our client hopes that the Mayor will take time to humbly reflect on the comments made by the court and reconsider his decision. Londoners deserve better.”


Wimbledon Police Station: Liberal Democrat plan to work together blocked

Policing in Merton is about to be hit by a triple whammy: we could be losing Wimbledon Police Station, our borough commander and at least 15% of Merton's police officers. 

Councillor Paul Kohler is taking the Mayor to court to overturn his decision to close Wimbledon Police station, and last week he submitted a motion to Merton Council calling for a cross party working group to be established to urgently consider all aspects of policing in the borough. Whatever the outcome of the legal case, the working group would have provided a critical opportunity to determine how the borough is going to address the various threats currently confronting policing in Merton.

Unfortunately neither Labour nor the Conservatives supported the motion. Both argued that the Council’s existing  mechanisms are sufficient, even though the borough has been unable to prevent any of the cuts in policing that have occurred so far.

Speaking after the Council meeting Cllr Paul Kohler said:

"I am at a loss to understand how both the governing Labour party and the official Tory opposition can be so complacent, particularly on such an important issue as crime and safety in the borough. 

The council has to start taking law and order seriously, yet nether Labour, nor the Conservatives, show any genuine interest or concern. Time for a fresh start on policing in Merton. "


Labour council bosses vote down motion to keep Little League Free

Last year Merton Council announced plans to charge local Little League football groups up to £4,000 a year to play in public parks. Liberal Democrats have been campaigning against the charges, and this week they took the campaign to "keep Little League free" to the Council Chamber.

Councillors Eloise Bailey, Hina Bokhari and Carl Quilliam presented a petition, signed by over 1539 concerned residents, and proposed a plan to allow Little League to continue to use our parks for free.

There was strong support in the public gallery, with Little League players, parents and volunteers attending the meeting to show their support for the motion.

Unfortunately Conservative and Labour councillors refused to play ball. The Conservatives claimed to support the motion in their speeches, but this support rang hollow when they put forward a wrecking amendment, perhaps unsurprising given that they had themselves proposed to increase Council fees and charges earlier this year as part of their budget plans.

Meanwhile the Labour councillor leading on Community and Culture argued strongly for the charges, despite the Labour Leader of the Council's public promise, just months ago that there would be no charges at all. All Labour councillors at the meeting backed imposing charges.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hina Bokhari said:

"We won’t be giving up. I truly believe that Merton could make this dream come true, and just as the nation is swept up in the belief and hope of the World Cup, we can work to keep Merton a place where families and children can use our parks for free and allow our community led charities to keep providing such wonderful services."


#ChangingPlaces toilet in new Morden Leisure Cente

The new Morden Leisure Centre is on track to open this Autumn. However, earlier this month, we learned a #changingplaces toilet (an accessible toilet with changing table and hoist) had been moved from the original plans.

A local Lib Dem member raised the issue on social media, and with a concerted effort by residents, campaign groups, and councillors, Merton Council finally changed their mind and announced that a #changingplaces toilet will once again be included in centre.

We’re very pleased by the news, as we want to ensure that Merton is a leading example in inclusion and diversity. You can see councillors - including Lib Dem leader Cllr Anthony Fairclough - questioning the councillor in charge as to how this happened, and about the process – so it doesn’t happen again, here on YouTube, with subtitles.


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