Tonight Merton Council approved building a new school in South Wimbledon, despite serious air quality concerns.
Cllr Simon McGrath - a member of the Planning Applications Committee - ultimately voted against granting planning permission. Reflecting on his decision, he said:
“Air pollution is a silent killer, and it really needs to be treated as the public health emergency it is.
"After looking at all the evidence, I felt that the proposal should only go forward with significant, measurable improvements in pollution levels near the school site.
“Labour Council bosses are putting our children’s health at risk by pushing through new Harris Academy without doing anything to improve the air quality. The Council's own research shows that air pollution levels are far above the acceptable level, and the argument that pollution will simply have reduced by the time the school opens is an unacceptable risk.
“It is extraordinary that the Council did not look into the need to reduce pollution levels before they spent millions of pounds buying the site. Local children deserve better from Merton.
“Local Lib Dems have long pushed for improvements to air quality across Merton - and specifically near to our schools. It's time the Labour Council faced up to their poor record on air quality.”
Merton Liberal Democrats have previously highlighted research showing that a number of Merton schools are located in areas with dangerously high pollution levels. They are calling for a radical and ambitious plan to improve air quality as an urgent priority.
Scores of Merton residents were among the nearly one million people who marched on Parliament on Saturday 20 October to demand a "People’s Vote".
The People’s Vote campaign is calling for a referendum on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, with the option to remain in the EU on the ballot paper. This would allow people to be given a final say on the negotiations.
Nearly two-thirds of Merton residents voted to remain in the EU at the 2016 referendum, and hundreds more since have signed a petition coordinated by Merton Liberal Democrats calling on the two local MPs to back the campaign for a People’s Vote. In September, Merton councillors supported a Liberal Democrat proposal in support of a People’s Vote
. Conservative and residents association councillors abstained.
Unlike his Mitcham & Morden counterpart - Wimbledon's current MP, Conservative Stephen Hammond has not yet committed to supporting a People's Vote.
Speaking after the march, Lib Dem parliamentary campaigner for Wimbledon, Cllr Carl Quilliam said:
“The Government has made a total mess of these Brexit negotiations. We are now facing the very real possibility that we will crash out of the EU in the most chaotic way possible, without a deal of any kind.
“Nobody voted to be poorer, yet that is exactly what will happen if we leave the EU with a bad deal or no deal.
“The overwhelming majority of Merton residents are deeply concerned with the direction the country is heading. Merton Liberal Democrats believe they, not politicians, should be given the final say on the Brexit deal.”
If you would like to join the Merton Liberal Democrat campaign for a People's Vote you can sign up here
Merton’s new rubbish collection scheme has been in place since 1st October, and we have been made aware of a number of issues. Recurring problems include wheelie bins not being returned to properties after rubbish collection, and collections being missed.
Cllr Paul Kohler has been in touch with council officers regarding bins being left in the pavements / roads after collection, and it has been confirmed that instructions given to Veolia staff are to replace bins on properties after collection. If your bins are not replaced on your property after collection please let your local ward councillors know so they can raise it with the relevant team at the council, who will handle the complaint.
If your rubbish isn’t collected you can report it on the Merton Council website, and a team will come out to collect it provided the rubbish was `presented'. Some residents are having issues with rubbish not being collected as it wasn’t presented properly - information on how rubbish should be presented can be found here. If moving the bins each week is difficult for you, you can apply for assisted collection.
The new scheme of wheelie bins and fortnightly collections begins on 1 October.
There is some flexibility in the system if wheelies don't work for you.
So: please call the Council on 020 8274 4902 if
- You will struggle to store the bins in your front garden (or if you don’t have one!) - the Council will reassess your property [although still trying to get them to confirm the size of garden they think is needed].
- Moving the bins each week would be difficult for you. You can apply for an assisted collection. You can also do this online here.
- You are in a household of five or more, or have a medical condition, to request a larger bin.
- You want to share some bins with a neighbour.
Lastly, it's really annoying/not possible for lots of people to wait in a phone queue - your councillors can contact the relevant Council department for you (without needing to call). Find your councillor here.
If you haven't any wheelie bins, but they've been delivered to your neighbours, you can report a missing, lost or stolen bin online. Please use your current method of collection until your new wheelie bins arrive.
AND - your old bins can be collected by the Council for recycling using the bulky waste collection service, *apparently*.
Find your NEW COLLECTION DAY here.
The leader of the Council said on 18 September, that they are considering a borough-wide collection of old bins for recycling, we should know in a few months.
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.
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.
Labour 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”.
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
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”.