Lib Dems move motion to end cladding scandal

Merton Liberal Democrats are moving a motion for the council cabinet to sign up to the ‘End Our Cladding Scandal’ campaign. 

The motion comes as some flat owners are spending lockdown in unsafe homes which they can’t sell, and facing huge bills to fix the safety failings. 

The motion states “many owners, in buildings of all heights, have been left in limbo” and are “understandably concerned about the cost of remedial work”.

Councillor Hina Bokhari for West Barnes, one of the motion’s movers, stated:

 “After seeing first hand the effects the fire in Worcester Park last year had on residents, I know how devastating such a tragedy can be for residents. With the added extra mental trauma of this cladding scandal it seems completely unfair that the government are not doing more to support them and make sure they don’t have to pay the bill for fire safety in buildings.”

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Wimbledon and fellow mover of the motion Councillor Paul Kohler Trinity further added:

"After the tragedy of Grenfell I am appalled the Tory government has done so little to ensure it does not happen again. Too many people are trapped in dangerous flats they can neither make safe nor sell. The government and developers must act urgently to  solve a crisis that has made it impossible to even sell purpose built flats in blocks without cladding."

Supporting the ‘End our Cladding Scandal Campaign’ means supporting the campaign’s ten demands. This includes urging the government to lead a national effort to remove all dangerous cladding from buildings by 2022, ensuring that costs are not passed onto residents and providing mental health support to those affected.

Despite the backlash to the Government’s inadequate response to the Grenfell tragedy there are many residential buildings still finding they have unsafe cladding. In a 2020 survey of leaseholders from 117 housing developments by the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, 90 per cent of respondents said the government’s response to the ‘cladding crisis’ had been “no help at all.”

This is why Merton Liberal Democrats are asking Merton Council Cabinet and the government to go further when it comes to protecting those in residential housing. 

In addition to supporting the demands from the ‘End our Cladding Scandal’ campaign, the motion calls for officers to make their audit of cladding issues in Merton available for public access, the audit to include low rise blocks under 18m, and for the creation of an online ‘hub’ for residents, tenants and long leaseholders in both the private and social housing sectors to access relevant support to deal with housing safety issues. 

Click here to view the motion. You can also follow the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign here and keep up with our campaigns here.




Merton Lib Dems call for action on single use plastics.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for local government to take action in reducing plastic pollution across the borough.

Long after it has been discarded, plastic creates greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to the climate change emergency. The average London adult buys more than three plastic water bottles every week - a startling 175 bottles every year per person. In total, some 7.7 billion plastic bottles are bought across the UK each year, resulting in substantial amounts of single-use plastic waste.

This is why Merton Liberal Democrats are calling for the Council Cabinet to:

  1.     Work with residents, businesses and organisations across Merton to help them go ‘single-use plastic free,’ sharing business support and practical advice to help the transition from single-use plastics to re-usable alternatives.
  2.     Incorporate a relevant workstream into the Climate Change Delivery Plan. This might include, for example, the Council itself becoming ‘single use plastic free’, participation in schemes that encourage the refilling of drinking bottles, the installation of further water fountains, the collection and recycling of a full range of plastic materials, deposit schemes for plastic containers and information for residents and businesses.

The Merton Liberal Democrats believe that if the Council agree to these proposals will drastically help Merton’s fight against plastic pollution and to meet London recycling targets. 




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).

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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.

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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.




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. 




Restore free travel for under 18s

Restore Free Travel for Under 18s in London

Siobhan Benita, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London, has called on the government to urgently reverse the temporary suspension of free travel for under 18s in London.

The condition was part of the recently announced support funding package for Transport for London.

Benita described the scrapping of the concession as “unjust” and said that it will be “a disaster for the capital’s poorest families”. 

Local authorities remain responsible for providing free travel between home and school for children eligible for free school meals, and who need to travel over 3 miles. Following questions from Liberal Democrat councillors, Merton Council estimated this would cost close to £100,000 per year.

Cllr Jenifer Gould added:

“Many young Londoners rely on free travel to get to school. Taking away this concession at a time when so many families are struggling financially is indefensible. And there doesn’t appear to be any plan in place for those in need. The most sensible thing to do at this stage is to urgently reverse the decision.”

You can sign the London-wide petition against this here.


Keeping children (and adults) entertained

We know what it is like trying to keep children entertained and engaged, whilst trying to also work from home.

So we thought we would share some resources we seen, below. Let us know if you've any other suggestions!

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Local businesses offering home delivery and collections in Merton

We want to support local businesses, and have listed some we have heard about here – but please note that we haven’t used all of the services below, so cannot endorse them! Let us know if you hear about any others.

**Love Wimbledon, the Wimbledon business improvement district, has information on those businesses that are open in Wimbledon, including pharmacies and post offices and those that do delivery**

Groceries

Clapham Fresh - fruit, veg, 'larder items', has also collected meat from local butchers and bits from Screw Fix. Delivery takes 1-2 working days. Free delivery to SW postcodes, min order £20. https://www.claphamfresh.co.uk/

First Choice Produce - veg boxes, dairy, bread, frozen food - 0207 498 0550, [email protected] / https://www.firstchoiceproduce.com/ 24h phone line Mon-Sat, closed Sunday.

Fruit on Route - weekly fruit, veg and egg orders. Email by Tues midday, with delivery on Thurs, Fri or Sat - @Fruitonroute [email protected] 07867972718.

Gourmet Hog Roast - weekly meat and veg boxes (also milk and toilet rolls) - deliveries on Wed/Fri - @GourmetHog [email protected].

IA Harris - fruit, veg, dairy, dried goods (rice/pasta), tins - min order £20, free delivery - 0207 622 7176 [email protected]

Leon Wimbledon - now a mini-supermarket, stocking basic essentials such as freshly baked bread, rice, teabags and toilet paper - 02089473550.

Londis, 57 Church Road, Mitcham - offering local delivery for elderly / vulnerable - 02086484968.

Pale Green Dot - fruit, veg and ‘staples’ (bread/milk/eggs) boxes delivered, happy to take payment over the phone - https://www.palegreendot.co.uk/

Solstice - fruit, veg and 'staples' (milk, butter, bread, eggs) boxes - 020 7498 7700 [email protected] - free next day delivery on orders placed by 8pm.

Smith and Brock - various fruit & veg and dairy/bread boxes. Delivery free with orders over £35 (£5 delivery charge otherwise). Delivery to SE, SW and W postcodes only - delivery takes 3 days. [email protected] / https://www.knock-knock-groceries.com/

Sushi Cupcake - fruit, veg, 'staples', and household items - delivery is free for elderly/vulnerable, £7.50 for others - £60 min order - [email protected] / https://sushicupcake.co.uk/grocery/

Time & Leisure Magazine's take on food delivery services - in south west London.

Meat and fish

Coppin Brothers - butcher, Mitcham Road, free delivery locally, min order £15 if further away - 07957666191 / www.coppins-butchers.com

Field and Flower - online butcher/fishmonger - delivery £2.95 Mon-Frid, and £3.95 at weekends - 02037358005 https://field-flower.mention-me.com/m/wa/ho5zy-antonia-nogales-pena

Heanens Wholesale Meats Ltd - free delivery, min order £25. http://heanens.com

Prepared meals

Earles & co - delivery of freshly prepared meals - https://www.weareearles.co.uk/eat/delivery

Mica Cafe - call 020-8542-6555 for takeaway.

Mustard Family Foods - delivery of frozen prepared meals, soups etc, meat and vegan options - 25% off with codes THANKS25OFF or NEW25OFF - 02038481303 [email protected]

 


COVID-19: Coronavirus advice

As of 16 March 2020 the Government has announced a series of new measures to combat the spread of coronavirus. These include working from home as much as possible, avoiding unnecessary travel, reducing social contact and avoiding public spaces like bars, restaurants and theatres.

The Government's guidance on these measures can be read online here - please take a moment to read it carefully.

If you are aged 70 or over, you are pregnant, or you have a health condition which means you would normally be instructed to get the flu jab each year you are advised to take additional precautions - please read the guidance above and refer to the table below.

More general advice from the NHS on coronavirus, symptoms and how to avoid catching or spreading the virus can be found online here.

The table below provides a helpful summary of the Government's recommended measures:

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