What's been happening with recycling?

Merton Council recently admitted that up to 80% of recycling collected in public litter bins is actually sent to the Beddington Lane Energy Recovery Facility, rather than being recycled.

After investigating, Liberal Democrat councillors have confirmed that

  • The contractors who empty the bins are supposed look and decide whether on-street recycling bins are 'contaminated' by non-recyclable waste; and
  • Contaminated waste goes to Beddington Lane and is burned, whereas non-contaminated recycling is sent to the Garth Road Recycling Centre.  

Whilst seeking to confirm the processes, Cllr Anthony Fairclough was told:

"Uncontaminated recyclable waste should go to Garth Road and move onward to be recycled.

Other litter bin ‘landfill’ waste is sent to [Beddington Lane] plant. ...

It is worth bearing in mind that the litter bin waste in total amounts to circa 3% of waste."

He sought details of exactly how and when it was determined that recycling was uncontaminated:

"Many thanks for your correspondence and for sharing your concerns and observations regarding our ‘On Street Recycling’ litter bins.

One of the key challenges in recycling this material is the quality of the material along with the increasing issue of contamination which prevents this material from being directly recycled.

The waste collected from our on street recycling bins is segregated by the collections crews. The general waste is delivered into the  Beddington energy from waste facility and thermally treated. The recycling material is bulked and transported for further processing. An assessment of the load is undertaken by the processor and if the analysis indicates a contamination level above 5% the load is rejected.  

Independent analysis has suggested that this waste stream is contaminated by as much as 80% ..."

Separately, Cllr Jenifer Gould received an email stating:

"We ask Veolia's street cleansing crews to visually inspect the contents of recycling litter bins when they are emptied. They then make a judgement as to whether contamination levels are low enough for the load to be taken for additional sorting, or whether contamination is so high that the only option is to treat it as residual waste at the Beddington Energy Recovery Facility.

Despite the challenges they present, we feel that the benefit of reinforcing the behaviour associated with recycling and encouraging members of our community to think about what it is they are throwing away, justifies retaining the street recycling bins."

April vaccine update

The NHS in Merton is currently offering the vaccine to the following groups:

  • people aged 42 and over
  • people aged 16 and over who are clinically extremely vulnerable (also referred to as high risk), or clinically vulnerable (also referred to as moderate risk) - details of who falls into these categories is available here 
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers
  • people who are eligible for Carer's Allowance (more info here)

If you fall into any of these groups you can book a vaccination online here, or for free by calling 119, open 7am-11pm, 7 days a week

Create a safe space for women to share their experiences of harassment and violence

An Extraordinary Meeting of Merton Council on Wednesday 21 April backed a Liberal Democrat proposal to help tackle violence against women and girls in the borough. 

Merton Liberal Democrats requested the meeting following the hurt and anger expressed by women in response to the news of Sarah Everard’s heinous murder.

The proposals were unanimously supported by all councillors present. Speaking after the meeting Cllr Eloise Bailey, Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group said:

“The topic of this meeting was difficult, but I’m proud of what we achieved. At a time when rape prosecutions are falling, and women are losing faith in the criminal justice system, it’s crucial that we have safe and confidential opportunities to report our experiences. And the Council must work with relevant organisations to ensure that women’s reports lead to real change.”

Cllr Anthony Fairclough, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Merton Council added:

“The stories of the harassment and fear experienced by women and girls on a daily basis highlighted the urgent need to make a safe space to share these experiences, and help ensure that real action to address the concerns raised can be taken.”

“So we are calling for Merton Council to create confidential opportunities for women and girls to share their experiences. This process must inform the work of the Council and other agencies in tackling male behaviour in order to reduce violence against women and girls."

A recording of the meeting can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/4_-qeCotiMI?t=3763


Safety in Merton

We have all been moved by the awful news of Sarah Everard and send our heartfelt sympathies to her family and friends.

For some, it has triggered painful memories. For others, it has given some awareness about how their behaviour may impact those around them.

Read more

Merton Lib Dem budget amendments

Merton Liberal Democrats realise that the coronavirus pandemic has put a severe strain on the budgets of councils across the country - and as a result, difficult decisions need to be made. We join all those urging the Government to provide enough additional support to local authorities.

The Labour party's proposed budget can be found on Merton Council's website.

In our budget amendments we will focused on three things:

  • Investing in the future, by supporting children & young people;
  • Ensuring those who have been on the front-line of the coronavirus pandemic receive a fair wage for their vital work; and
  • Helping to tackle the climate emergency.

With this in mind, we have proposed a number of amendments to the budget plans (the full text of our amendments can be found on the Merton Council website): 

1. 'Free school breakfast club' scheme

Local residents and businesses showed incredible generosity in stepping in to address the shortfall in Government support during the Coronavirus lockdown. One of the places this was seen most clearly was in the Free School Meals campaign where people donated cash to help families during school holidays.

We're now calling on the Council to run a pilot scheme to allow children who are eligible for pupil premium to attend school 'breakfast clubs' for free, to help tackle this issue - giving them and their families more support. This would be funded by voluntary donations from local residents and businesses.

2. Caring for our communities

Care workers have been on the front-line during the coronavirus pandemic. They're also amongst the lowest paid in our community. While Council employees are paid at least the London Living Wage, care workers who work for private companies that contract with the council, are not.

Last year we succeeded in convincing the council to take small but practical steps to ensure that all care workers in the borough receive the London Living wage. We're now calling on the council to make a firm commitment to aware all future contracts at the London Living wage.

We're also very concerned about the multiple changes that the Council wants to make to day centres, children's centres and the dementia hub. They say they want to re-imagine the way the services are provided - but we're worried this is just a way of cutting services quickly. So we are asking the Council to show councillors the detailed plans before they make the changes, to try to ensure that the people who use these services don't lose out.

3. Supporting our future

After the lockdown has eased we must focus on younger people, looking in particular at their health and opportunities. So we're calling on the Council to agree to:

  • a review into whether dedicated Merton-based sexual health and mental health services for vulnerable young people escaping sexual exploitation could and should be introduced;
  • a review into the operation and effectiveness of pupil referral units;
  • a review of Merton’s use of the apprenticeships, to ensure the best routes for Merton's young adults to enter the job market, support local businesses to grow, and to stop the practice of LB Merton returning unused/expired apprenticeship levy monies to HM Treasury; and
  • the necessary work to establish a Landlord Licensing scheme.

4. Addressing the climate emergency

Tackling the climate emergency must be a key focus for councils across the country. The Council's climate action plan depends on securing funding for projects to help achieve the huge change we need, and so part of our amendment is about putting in place enough staff resources to make sure that plan succeeds.

Furthermore, Merton Council recently introduced a new parking charges scheme, which they say is designed to improve air quality. We've argued before that we don't think the scheme will be effective, and that it will undermine the climate emergency response because people think its just a way to raise cash.

So, at the budget meeting we're proposing a number of changes to improve it:

  1. Extra revenue raised by the new charges should be separately reported, and should be ringfenced for spending on ways to tackle climate change;
  2. A new low mileage discount or rebate - this would encourage people to drive less, as well as mitigating the effects of higher parking charges on low income households that can't afford to buy a new car; and
  3. Reconsider the changes to visitors permits - it's not fair or effective to charge people more based on the type of car their visitor turns up in. How can that result in their visitor buying a more environmentally friendly car? It just looks like a way to raise cash, and disproportionately affects some older or disabled people who need more visits from care workers and family. 

March vaccine update

The NHS in Merton is currently offering the vaccine to the following groups:

  • people aged 50 and over
  • people aged 16 and over who are clinically extremely vulnerable (also referred to as high risk), or clinically vulnerable (also referred to as moderate risk) - details of who falls into these categories is available here 
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers
  • people who are eligible for Carer's Allowance (more info here)

If you fall into any of these groups you can book a vaccination online here, or for free by calling 119, open 7am-11pm, 7 days a week

South London listens

South London Citizens and the South London Mental Health and Community Partnership have put together a survey to understand how people are coping during the Covid-19 pandemic, and what issues are putting pressure on people's wellbeing.

It is part of the South London Listens campaign, run by local community groups, mental health trusts and local authorities, with the aim of working together to support and protect local mental health during and after the pandemic.

You can take part in the survey here - it's open until the end of March.

Stop the Mayor from closing Wimbledon police station!

Whilst Cllr Paul Kohler's court case forced the Mayor of London to reverse his initial decision, the reality is that we’ve only guaranteed Wimbledon police station's future until 2022 and we need to keep fighting.


Join the campaign


The Daily Mail today (1st March 2021) leads with the story that half of British police stations have closed over the last 10 years. Merton Lib Dem Cllr Paul Kohler is quoted in the article which can be read on the Daily Mail website.

Keeping up the fight, you can listen to Cllr Kohler's interview with LBC's Nick Ferrari (also 1st March 2021) on how important community police stations are and how we must continue fighting to keep our police station in Wimbledon.

Read more

Enhanced coronavirus testing in Wimbledon Park

Residents who live or work in the Wimbledon Park area are being asked to get tested for coronavirus, even if they have no symptoms, as part of an enhanced testing program due to a case of the South African variant being found in the area. 

You need to get tested if you meet all of the following criteria:

If you meet all these criteria, and do not have symptoms of coronavirus there are two ways you can get a test:

  • Book a test at one of the mobile testing units. These are located at Wimbledon Park Golf Club and at the car park at the rear of Wickes on Waterside Way. These will be open daily 8am-3pm from Friday 26th February to Thursday 4th March. Slots can be booked here (pre-booking is required).
  • Use a home testing kit. These can be picked up and dropped off at Christ the King Church Hall, 9 Crescent Gardens, Wimbledon Park, SW19 8AJ. This will open daily, 8.30am-6pm, from Monday 1 until Friday 5 March. No booking is needed. If you are shielding and need help to pick up / return a home test kit contact the council on 020 8274 5332 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. 

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature, new continuous cough, or loss / change to sense of smell / taste) you should get tested in the normal way by booking a free NHS test.

More information about the enhanced testing program is available on the Merton Council website

Resilience & wellbeing event

Lib Dem Executive Team member and business / well-being coach Viv Vella recently held a members’ event centred on boosting well-being and resilience. She recommended the following resources:

Exercise & movement

  • Movement is crucial to our wellbeing, and lockdown has made exercising difficult for many people. Couch to 5k is an app to help everyone (especially complete beginners!) get running. 

Wellbeing & mental health resources


Viv also has some more specific resources for people experiencing domestic abuse and eating disorders - if you would like her to send you any of these resources please send an enquiry to [email protected]

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