Reporting back on discussions with Reston Waste

I recently met with Andrew Reston of Reston Waste to discuss constituents' concerns regarding the operation of HGVs across Wimbledon. Andrew, and his daughter Harriett (Transport Manager), stressed their commitment to the community (as evidenced by their sponsorship of Wimbledon AFC) and how keen they are to address residents' legitimate concerns. As Gold accredited members of the Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme (FORS) they have also invested time and money in training their staff, improving their procedures and maintaining and improving their fleet and are keen to demonstrate their adherence to FORS operating requirements.

Our discussions centred on noise, routing and speeding/safety. 

NOISE: Residents are justifiably concerned about the noise from skip lorries and Andrew accepts this to be an issue. As every vehicle in his fleet is renewed within three years of purchase he has guaranteed that he will now only purchase skip lorries with chain sleeves. He will also retro fit every vehicle in his current fleet, which is not due to be renewed in the next 12 months, with similar device to stop the chains clanking around. In addition to the noise from chains he is also aware that the skips when empty tend to clang as they move in transit. He has previously invested in skip clamps to prevent this from happening but had to remove them as they were damaging the skips. In light of our discussion he has now committed to investigating how these might re-introduced. Under the FORS accreditation scheme Reston Waste are also required to appoint a Noise Champion who can be contacted on [email protected] if you have any particular concerns.

ROUTING: Although Reston Waste do endeavour to inform drivers regarding street restrictions etc there are currently two difficulties to overcome. Firstly the records maintained by Webfleet Solutions a Bridgestone company (from whom fleet operators get their information) are not up to date as there have been problems getting the requisite information. I have consequently committed to speaking with the Council to determine where the logjam is occurring. Secondly, even if the system was up to date, it is a manual one that is often not consulted when the driver is assigned a route. Andrew has consequently committed to investing in a Webfleet solutions  service that incorporates  the restrictions in the HGV's Sat Nav system. I also raised the need for HGVs to avoid school streets where possible and I have agreed to provide him with details of every school street so that Harriett can devise a routing system to minimise their use. 

SPEEDING/SAFETY: The company are rightly keen to address any issues of speeding and dangerous driving and each HGV is fitted with eight cameras which can be remotely accessed along with data on speed etc. If residents are concerned about an incident they should contact the office on 0208-944-1349 or by email [email protected] and provided them with as much information as possible i.e. vehicle registration, location, time and date for prompt communication and investigation.

I was impressed by Andrew and Harriett's desire to work with the community in improving relations and I'd like to publicly thank them for their commitment. They believe they are not infrequently blamed when the culprit is another firm and I hope the above processes will begin to address their concerns in this regard. To aid transparency Andrew has also agreed to include a page on his company website detailing complaints and how they were resolved which will give all of us an opportunity to see how things are progressing. 

I do hope we can all work constructively on this and I will be very happy to organise a meeting with Andrew and Harriett to discuss any continuing concerns once these measures have had time to bed in. Reston Waste plays an important role in the community, both in providing an essential service and in paying business rates and rent to the Council, and I am consequently keen to show how we can work together, before approaching other local operators. 

Best wishes,

Cllr Paul Kohler

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Wimbledon


Consultation on emission based parking charges

Response from the Liberal Democrat group


Merton Liberal Democrats believe the Council should be using its powers to encourage residents to use cars less, and switch to less polluting vehicles where possible. However, we do not believe that the current proposals from the Council will be effective in doing this. Instead they appear to have been designed to raise revenue, and to do so in a way which in our opinion still (following the 2019/2020 increases) penalises parts of the Borough that don’t tend to return Labour councillors.

We need an integrated plan which will:

  • Encourage Merton residents to walk, cycle and use public transport more

  • Encourage residents to shift to less polluting vehicles and provide them with support to do so

  • Recognise that many residents will continue to need to use cars and that some will have low mileage

As we mentioned in our 2019 consultation response, a key factor is providing real, practical help to enable residents to switch to greener transport options. We set out some ideas towards this in our consultation response. If an emissions-based model is to be used, these proposals must be tested and shaped using evidence from the Council’s review of the diesel levy and emissions based charges, and learning lessons from similar schemes adopted by other London Boroughs.

Our full consultation response is available here.

Pubs in urgent “Keep the lights on” protest at 10pm curfew

Ahead of a crunch vote in the House of Commons next week, the Liberal Democrats have teamed up with pubs, restaurants and community clubs across the country to launch a “Keep the lights on” campaign in protest at the 10pm curfew.

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesperson, Cllr Paul Kohler said:
"As a small business owner I know first hand the disastrous impact that the curfew is having on responsible hospitality venues in Wimbledon and across London. 
"The government has not provided any evidence that the curfew is good for public health, and nor have they provided any financial assistance to support businesses that have been affected. 

"It is time for Ministers to either come forward with the evidence, or rethink the curfew. Stephen Hammond should stand up for local pubs and refuse to back Boris Johnson’s curfew.”

Venues across the country, including Cllr Kohler's bar, flashed their lights in an 'SOS' Morse Code pattern in the minutes after the enforced shutdown on Friday and Saturday. The campaign is supported by both the Campaign for Real Ale and the Night Time Industry Association.

The Liberal Democrats want to see a return to staggered leaving times instead of a 10pm closure that has seen mass crowds on the streets and public transport.

With rates on the rise in some parts of the country, Liberal Democrats are also calling on the Government to guarantee that furlough remains available to businesses that are put into lockdown while not penalising those that can open with the arbitrary 10pm curfew. 

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Daisy Cooper, who launched the campaign, said:


Read more

School Streets Consultation

Merton Council has implemented (or is in the process of doing so) several 'School Streets' in roads around schools across the borough. These measures are designed to deter car trips for the `school run' by restricting motorised access in and out of the identified roads during the morning school opening and afternoon school closing periods under an Experimental Traffic Management Order (ETMO).

Read more

Active Travel FAQs

Coronavirus has changed the way we travel - with public transport capacity restricted more people are considering active travel options. We've put together some handy FAQs to help you incorporate active travel into your day.

Q - How can I find walking routes without air & noise pollution?

A - The Go Jauntly App has teamed up with environmental researchers Tranquil City to suggest walking routes which are exposed to less air & noise pollution, and which include more green space. Central London Footways also provides a map of quiet and interesting walking routes between major landmarks in London, including train stations, popular destinations and green spaces.

Q - I want to start cycling but I'm nervous, what support is available?

A - Free cycle training is available for cyclists of all abilities. TFL's online Cycle Skills course offers four short modules with tips & advice to get you going. There's also free (in person) cycling courses offered in each borough. Bankside Bike Train offers a free, guided bike rides from Clapham Junction to Bankside (plus a couple of other routes). Check out these tips for cycling safely in London.

Q - I have limited mobility, is there any specific support to help me start cycling?

The Wheels for Wellbeing organisation is set up to remove barriers to cycling. They have a fleet of inclusive bikes which people can try out at inclusive cycling sessions. They offer independent advice to help find a cycling solution that works for you.

Q - I want to walk between stations to avoid taking the tube, but how long will the journey take me?

A - TFL have put together a handy `walking time between stations' map, so that you can check how long it will take you to replace a tube journey with walking.

Q - I don't own a bike, can I still cycle in London?

A - There are over 11,500 bicycles which can be hired at 750 docking stations across London. Find your nearest docking station here. The Santander cycle app can make it easier to find a docking station and hire a bike.

Q - I need to use public transport, what's the best time to travel?

A - Generally the quiet times to travel on public transport are 8:15 - 16:00 and after 17:30 on weekdays, and before noon and after 18:00 on weekends. This varies between stations though - you can check quiet times for a specific station here.

Q - I want to cycle for part of my journey, can I carry my bike on public transport the rest of the way?

A - Folded cycles can be taken on public transport services at all times (although on buses drivers can refuse entry if the bus is too busy). Non-folded cycles can be taken on some services at specific times - check your journey here. We've put together a summary of when non-folding bikes can be taken on trains from Merton here.

Q - How do I keep my bike safe in London?

A - The Met has put together advice on how to keep your bike safe from thieves. There are also some useful tips on how to keep your bike clean, how to repair a puncture, and what to do if you run into a mechanical problem while out on your ride.

Q - Are there any good courses to help my children learn to cycle safely?

A - The Pedal Project has been recommended to us!


Local Councillor action on dangerous water leak

Martin Way water leak

For over 2 months water has been leaking on the road and pavement outside South Merton train station.

Cannon Hill Councillor Jenifer Gould has persistently contacted Thames Water, Network Rail and Merton Council to get the leak fixed and return the pavement and road to a safer condition.

Read more

Calls for urgent action following damning housing decision report

Lib Dem Cllr Paul Kohler has called for urgent action following a report by the Local Government Ombudsman into the case of a Merton resident who was forced to give up a job in London when Merton Council housed his family in Birmingham. 

Merton Council’s housing policy allows it to prioritise certain households for homes in Merton, or within a 90 minute commute of the borough. Households who don’t meet certain criteria, including employment, can be housed “wherever accommodation can be secured”.

But the Ombudsman found that Merton Council had ignored information about the resident’s employment when housing him in Birmingham.

Cllr Paul Kohler  said:

"We need urgent action from Merton Council to make sure that mistakes like this cannot happen again. This must include a review of everyone who has been housed more than 90 minutes away to see if they have been similarly affected. 

“But we need to go further and investigate why we are housing people so far from their relatives and friends in the first place. Moving families to places where they know no-one is hugely stressful and disruptive and Merton should be avoiding doing so whenever possible.”

Liberal Democrat councillors have written to the Council asking what steps are being taken to avoid this happening again, and requesting a review of everyone who has been housed outside London in the last 2 years.

Merton COVID-19 Community Response Hub

The Merton COVID-19 Community Response Hub is a partnership between Age UK Merton, Merton Voluntary Service Council and Wimbledon Guild, supported by the Merton Council. It was set up in March 2020 to help isolated households and those at risk from COVID-19 in Merton. 

Are you isolated, at risk from COVID-19, and in need of help with any of the following?

  • Support with shopping and basic supplies
  • Access to prescription and medication
  • Telephone befriending
  • Advice and practical help to stay active.
  • support to stay independent at home

If you, or someone you know, needs help please email [email protected] or call 020 8685 2272, between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. 

Information about the hub is available in a range of different languages on the MVSC website.

Merton Lib Dems slam Conservative housing hypocrisy

Merton Liberal Democrats have condemned the Conservative Government’s plans to remove planning controls on speculative developments at the same time as local Tories are campaigning against affordable homes in Wimbledon. 

Local Lib Dems believe the Conservative Government's decision to allow landlords of purpose built flats to add two extra storeys without planning permission will have a disastrous effect on parts of Wimbledon, provide a windfall for speculative developers and do nothing to address the shortage of affordable homes across the borough. 

Nationally the Lib Dems are calling for “an urgent house building programme”, with proposals to build 100,000 social homes for rent every year. That is why Merton Lib Dems, in the face of Conservative opposition, are supporting the YMCA's proposal to build 110 affordable homes on their Broadway site. The YMCA bowed to Lib Dem pressure to reduce the height of their original proposal from 15 storeys to 9. 

Wimbledon's Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson Cllr Paul Kohler  said:

"Across Merton, 10,215 families are stuck on the housing waiting list. This is unacceptable. 

"I am saddened that Merton Conservatives are cynically campaigning against the YMCA building 110 affordable homes in Wimbledon, in a development  of comparable height to their current building. Meanwhile the Tory government has railroaded proposals through Parliament that will allow speculators to make a fast buck adding two extra storeys without the planning permission process that improved the YMCA proposal. 

"Wimbledon's skyline will be permanently blighted by these extra storeys but all the local Conservatives want to do is campaign against affordable housing."


Call for Name-Blind Recruitment to Improve Council Diversity

Liberal Democrat councillors have demanded Merton Council implements a name-blind recruitment process after it was revealed that it has a lower proportion of BAME senior managers than the average for councils across London. 

A new report looking at the recruitment of senior council officers found that the proportion of BAME top earners was only 14.1% for Merton Council–against an average of 17% for all London boroughs. The current overall proportion of BAME council employees is 38%, potentially indicating that barriers to progression also exist. 

Writing to Labour council bosses, Lib Dem Councillor Eloise Bailey said:

“We should be doing everything in our power to remove any barriers that limit the career opportunities of BAME candidates to ensure the Council reflects the people it represents. Again, we urge the Labour administration to adopt a simple, name-blind recruitment process”.

Despite this tried-and-tested approach being backed by the CBI, the body representing employers, as “needed to stop bias”, Council bosses have so far turned down the opportunity to implement this simple change.

Improving recruitment processes is one of a number of areas that Merton Liberal Democrats have been challenging the Council on to raise its record on equality. Others include calling on the Council to conduct a review into barriers to accessibility of being a councillor, and strengthening the process of Equality Impact Assessments. 

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