New Merton housing company will miss 40% affordable housing target

Merton' Labour administration has released details of their proposal to set up a housing development company, which will be discussed Wednesday's Council meeting.

Despite the desperate need for cheaper housing in the borough, and Merton's stated 40% target for affordable housing, the Council are not proposing to meet their own target with their own housing company. Merton’s social housing stock is already amongst the lowest in London at around 14% of all homes in the borough and there are nearly 9,000 households currently on the housing waiting list.

Instead, the proposals for the first 4 development sites list only 26% of them will be affordable. This is because Merton Council are trying to maximise income, and so are proposing to lend money to the housing company at 3-4.5% more than their own borrowing costs – making the Council a profit but cutting the new company’s ability to build affordable homes.

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A world free of nuclear weapons (Mar 2017)

Let's Talk Merton is our monthly informal political discussion, which takes place on the 2nd Monday of the month.

In March, the theme was a world free of nuclear weapons - and the future of Trident. See below for the full review of the meeting.

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The Brexit challenges facing the creative industries

The Liberal Democrats have published a paper setting out the challenges facing the UK’s creative industries as a result of Brexit.

The Power of Creativity and Brexit paints a testing picture for the industry, with potentially huge impacts from changes to freedom of movement, loss of investment and funding and less access to markets after Brexit.

The creative industries are of huge importance to Britain’s economy - the music industry alone contributes £3.8bn to the economy.

The value of exports to the EU across the creative industries is £19.8bn, and these products are not fully covered by WTO rules - a future option the government has failed to rule out.

6.1% of the creative industries workforce and 10% of the design, publishing and advertising workforce are EU (non-British) nationals.  Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond has consistently refused to back guarantees for EU citizens rights after Brexit.

Baroness Bonham-Carter, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport said: “Liberal Democrats have always been proud to back the fantastic creative companies and individuals who are based in Britain. We will stand up for them as the government pursues a hard-Brexit that poses a real risk to their future prosperity. The Government have rightly recognised the impact of changes to market access for banks and financial services but they must think about other industries and sectors too."

Read the creative industries paper here.


New franchise awarded for South West Trains

The government have recently announced the award of a new franchise for South West Trains, to commence on 20th August 2017 and run for the next 7 years.

As part of this contract, the franchisee will have set targets for improving passenger satisfaction with stations.  Raynes Park and Motspur Park stations are, unfortunately, not specifically mentioned for improved access.  However, an annual £2.6 million fund will be available for improvements to facilities and services from 2020, and local campaigners will continue to push for improving accessibility to our stations as soon as possible.


Damian Green: Don't scrap young people's housing benefit

The Conservatives have quietly published legislation that will scrap housing benefit for 18-21 year olds.

This income is a critical lifeline for thousands of young people and protects them from homelessness or situations of physical and emotional abuse. Without it, many will be put at risk.  That's why the Liberal Democrats are calling on Damian Green to scrap these disgraceful plans.

Add your name to our petition today:

http://www.libdems.org.uk/housing-benefit-cuts


Let's build a local housing company - open letter

Housing, to buy or rent by those on modest incomes, is becoming increasingly scarce across London.

But without a safe, secure and affordable home, how can anyone build a life?

A 2015 council report on the availability of housing in the borough noted that there were over 8000 people on Merton’s housing register, and that housing prices had risen by 42% and that private rents risen by 22% in the three years to 2015.  That report recommended Merton set up a “housing development company” - to build more affordable homes and create extra income for the Council, to fund local services.

I realise it takes time to set up a housing company, but if Labour Party bosses are really serious about tackling the housing crisis why is there still no money allocated to get this project up and running 2 years after it was first proposed? That is why Merton Lib Dems' Cllr Jeanes proposed an amendment to Merton Council’s budget on 1 March to use a small amount of the Council’s reserves to do just that and get the ball rolling.

However, because no other councillors – Conservative, Labour or Residents Association – formally seconded this, it couldn’t even be debated.  We know from speaking to local residents that they want action now and I urge local Labour party bosses to follow the recommendations of their own councillors, and give this project the support it needs as soon as possible. People in Merton can't live in an idea, they need affordable homes now.

Carl Quilliam, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson, Wimbledon


Let's Talk Merton: Housing crisis

Let's Talk Merton is our monthly informal political discussion, which takes place on the 2nd Monday of the month.

In February, the theme was the housing crisis - you can read a summary of the discussion here.


Housing crisis (Feb 2017)

Let's Talk Merton is our monthly informal political discussion, which takes place on the 2nd Monday of the month.

In February, the theme was the housing crisis. See below for the full review of the meeting.

Read more

An extra £14m for Merton's NHS

Claire & Carl want more investment in local NHS servicesThe Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government’s failure to provide enough extra cash for the NHS in Wednesday’s budget, warning that local services will struggle to cope with growing demand.

Ahead of the budget the Liberal Democrats called for a £4 billion funding boost for NHS and care services this year. That would amount to a cash injection of £7m for local NHS services in Merton and another £7m for social care across the borough. The Budget announced by the Government will instead see the share of national income spent on the NHS fall in the coming years.

NHS services in south west London currently face a funding gap of £828m by 2020-21, analysis of local NHS plans has found. The NHS funding crisis also risks being made even worse by the Government’s hard Brexit plans, which are set to increase borrowing by £100bn in the coming years.

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Consultation on changes to Merton's NHS

The organisation that runs Merton's NHS (the Clinical Commissioning Group, or CCG) is expected to need to find additional savings of at least £13 million in the 2017/18 financial year.

As such are consulting on proposed changes to services in Merton. Areas they are looking for residents' views on include:

  • Prescriptions for gluten free foods
  • Prescriptions for self-care medications
  • IVF and specialised fertility services
  • Supporting patients to be surgery ready

The consultation is available online here with a closing date of Monday 20th March 2017


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